Yoga 101: Famous Yoga Teachers Throughout History
If you’re someone who regularly enjoys yoga, you know how quickly it can benefit your whole life. The simplest yoga practice can enhance circulation, ease pain, calm the nervous system, and clear the mind. The most famous yoga poses are often the most calming, like downward dog or child’s pose. But we weren’t always familiar with yoga in the Western world. Learn about the most famous yoga teachers and the movements they inspired to fuel your own yoga routine at home. These famous yoga teachers and the poses they inspired all have deep histories that are rooted in a life-transforming practice. Let’s take a deep breath and dive in.
5 famous yoga teachers who changed history
1. Paramahansa Yogananda
This famous monk, yogi, and guru founded the world-renowned Self-Realization Fellowship and was the first great yoga master to live and teach in the West, which he did for more than 30 years. Well-loved by celebrities, he counted George Harrison and Elvis among his admirers. George Harrison even wrote a song for Yogananda. This famous yoga teacher instructed in meditation, the unity of all world religions, and the science of Kriya Yoga meditation. As the author of the spiritual best-seller Autobiography of a Yogi, he is one of the most famous yogis.
2. Swami Sivananda
This famous yoga guru was a teacher and yoga practitioner who is often credited with partially bringing yogic traditions, and famous yoga poses to the Western world. After leaving a medical practice in search of a new spiritual path, he became a monk while he continually served medical patients. As a prolific author, he published over 200 books on yoga and trained thousands of people at a school he founded, The Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy.
3. Mahavatar Babaji
This yogi is known to many practitioners as the Father of Kriya Yoga traditions, including self-realization and spiritual realization. Have you ever taken a yoga class? Then you’ve almost definitely taken part in a sun salutation; this practice combines some of the most famous yoga positions into a flow that joins physical exercise with breath and spiritual practice. Many famous yoga teachers say that Babaji taught the first-ever sun salutation thousands of years ago.
4. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
This famous teacher was deeply influential in his transformation of traditional yoga practices, and famous yoga poses into what they are today. Some experts credit Krishnamacharya with the modern yoga poses of the Headstand (Sirsasana) and Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana). He combined traditional yoga practices like asana and pranayama, joining them with meditation. Many famous poses and practices in your modern yoga classes were likely influenced by this famous yoga teacher in some way.
5. Swami Rama
Swami Rama was a famous Indian yogi, teacher, writer, and founder of The Himalayan Institute. Rama wrote popular books like The Art of Joyful Living, which helped modern Western traditions adopt famous yoga traditions, practices, and poses. Initiated at a young age by a great sage, Rama is well-respected for his joining of yogic tradition and modern science. Ancient wisdom and western teachings were influenced by his contributions to research, primarily in better understanding the nervous system and the positive effects of yoga on the body.
How can I begin learning traditional yoga poses and traditions?
If you want to start your own yoga practice, you’ve chosen a great time to begin. There is a wealth of resources online, including Boomerang’s online classes and discussion groups.
As you prepare for your first class, don’t forget that true yogic tradition is rooted in personal growth. Think of this as a practice that could affect your whole life and well-being, instead of simply hoping to learn the most famous poses and conquer them.
Like any great yogi, your yoga practice will benefit from reflecting and analyzing your own rituals and daily routines. Do you make time to spend in nature? Are you getting enough sleep? All the most famous yoga teachers spoke about the importance of a healthy mind, soul, and body.
Before you get started with your yoga practice, tune out the noise by exploring ways to practice mindfulness in your everyday life.
Start your own yoga practice with Boomerang’s yoga community
Whether you’re looking to try an online yoga class for the first time, hoping to discuss tips for well-being and mental health, or just looking to connect, Boomerang is a brilliant resource. Our online community of yogis at Boomerang is open to all levels of experience and skill; making it easy to start a yoga practice from the comfort of your own home!
Join our weekly discussion group and look out for upcoming classes that incorporate famous yoga poses, ask questions, explore ideas, and make new friends. Sign up for Boomerang to see all of our workshops where you can develop your skills.
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.