K. Pattabhi Jois

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Pattabhi Jois
Born (1915-07-26)July 26, 1915
Kowshika, Hassan, Karnataka, India
Died May 18, 2009(2009-05-18) (aged 93)
Mysore, Karnataka, India
Occupation Yoga teacher, author
Known for Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
Spouse(s) Savitramma (Amma)
Children Saraswathi Rangaswamy
Relatives R. Sharath Jois (Rangaswamy) (grandson)

Krishna Pattabhi Jois (Kannada: ಶ್ರೀ ಕೃಷ್ಣ ಪಟ್ಟಾಭಿ ಜೋಯೀಸರು) (July 26, 1915[1] – May 18, 2009[2]) was an Indian yoga teacher who developed the popular and gymnastic style of yoga referred to as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga.[3] In 1948, Jois established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute (now known as the Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute)[4] in Mysore, India.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Jois was born on July 26, 1915 (Guru Pūrṇimā, full moon day) in the village of Kowshika,[6] near Hassan, Karnataka, South India.

Jois's father was an astrologer, priest, and landholder. From the age of 5, he was instructed in Sanskrit and rituals by his father, as were all Brahmin boys. No one else in his family had learned yoga or even expressed interest in it.[7]

In 1927, at the age of 12, Jois attended a lecture and demonstration at the Jubilee Hall[8] in Hassan by T. Krishnamacharya[9] and became his student the very next day. For two years Jois remained in Kowshika and practiced with Krishnamacharya every day.[7] Jois never told his family he was practicing yoga. He would rise early, go to practice, and then attend school.

In 1930, Jois ran away from home to Mysore to study Sanskrit, with 2 rupees.[1][10] Around the same time Krishnamacharya departed Hassan to teach elsewhere. Two years later, Jois was reunited with Krishnamacharya, who had also made his way to Mysore. According to B.K.S. Iyengar, Jois was assigned to teach asana at the Sanskrit Pathshala when the yogashala of Krishnamacharya was opened in 1933 and was "never a regular student."[11][12] During this time, the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar, had become seriously ill and it is said that Krishnamacharya had healed him, through yoga, where others had failed. The Maharaja became Krisnamacharya's patron and established a Yoga shala for him at the Jaganmohan Palace.[13] Jois often accompanied Krishnamacharya in demonstrations.[14] Jois has stated that he studied with Krishnamacharya from 1927 to 1953[15] and claimed to teach the same asana system that he originally learned.[16] Jois has claimed that he was B. K. S. Iyengar's guru,[17] which Iyengar has refuted.[18]


Jois has said that the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system is based on an ancient text called Yoga Korunta.[19] The authenticity of Yoga Korunta is questionable and it is not possible to verify the truth of this claim.[20]

Jois remained in Mysore and married a young woman named Savitramma[10] (but who came to be known as Amma), on the full moon of June 1933 when Jois was 18 years old.[21][22] In 1948 they, with the help of Jois' students, purchased a home in the section of town called Lakshmipuram, where they lived with their children Saraswathi, Mañju and Ramesh.

He held a teaching position in yoga at the Sanskrit College[14] of Maharaja from 1937 to 1973,[23] becoming vidwan (professor) in 1956,[23] as well as being Honorary Professor of Yoga at the Government College of Indian Medicine from 1976 to 1978.[24] He taught there until 1973, when he left to devote himself fully to teach yoga at his yoga shala. He had studied texts such as the Patañjali Yoga Darśana, Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā, Yoga Yajñavalkya and the Upaniṣads,[24] and in 1948, he established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute at their new home in Lakshmipuram.[25]

In 1964, a Belgian named André Van Lysebeth (1919–2004) spent two months with Jois learning the primary and intermediate asanas of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system. Not long afterwards, van Lysebeth wrote a book called J'apprends le Yoga (1967, English title: Yoga Self-Taught) which mentioned Jois and included his address. This marked the beginning of westerners coming to Mysore to study yoga.[10] His students included B. K. S. Iyengar,[16] Larry Schultz, Madonna, Sting, Gwyneth Paltrow [9] and Caroline Klebl [26] All his students, including the celebrities and his grandson, received the same training.[10]

His first trip to the West was in 1974 to South America, to deliver a lecture in Sanskrit at an international yoga conference.[23] In 1975 he stayed for four months in Encinitas, California, marking the beginning of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in the US.[27] He would return to the US several times over the next 20 years, to teach yoga at Encinitas and beyond.[27] He also regularly travelled to Sydney, Australia, where some of his advanced students were based.

He wrote the book Yoga Mālā, in Kannada in 1958, and it was published in 1962, but was not published in English until 1999.[27] A film was made about him by Robert Wilkins.[28]

Jois continued to teach at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, now located in the neighbourhood of Gokulam,[6] with his only daughter Saraswathi Rangaswamy (b. 1941) and his grandson Sharath[14] (b. 1971), until May 18, 2009 when he died aged 93 of natural causes.


The Economist published an obituary which questioned Jois's adherence to the yogic principle of ahimsa or non-violence and claimed that "a good number of Mr Jois's students seemed constantly to be limping around with injured knees or backs because they had received his “adjustments”, yanking them into Lotus, the splits or a backbend."[29] The same obituary also questioned Jois's adherence to the yogic principle of brahmacharya or sexual continence and made the accusation that his female students received different "adjustments" from his male students.[29] CounterPunch in a magazine article claimed that Jois was a "reported sexual abuser of students."[30] YogaDork has made accusations of inappropriate touching of women by Jois during yoga classes.[31][32] Elephant Journal published an article entitled When do Yoga Adjustments cross the line? with a photo of Jois adjusting female students[33] and another article entitled Have you Experienced: Sexual Harassment in Yoga Class? showing the same photo.[34] In an article appearing on YogaCity NYC, a female student reported she was groped by Jois during a class in New York.[35]

Adjustments by Jois have been characterized as "overwhelming, producing fear and extreme discomfort in students as they are pushed beyond their physical and psychological comfort zones in often-difficult, even dangerous asana."[36]


A student David Life, co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga school in Manhattan, has said of him, "He was not a monk or a renunciate; he was fearless about combining the path of yogi with the path of participant. He never saw it as separate from our lives. He thought that anyone could attain to yoga if they had the desire and the enthusiasm."[37]

Jois' grandson R. Sharath Jois teamed with Sonia Klein Jones, to create Jois Yoga in honor of Krishna Pattabhi Jois.[38][39][40][41][42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Pattabhi Jois: Ashtanga yoga guru, The Times
  2. ^ Pattabhi Jois passes into the ages
  3. ^ Broad, William (2012). The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards. New York, US: Simon & Schuster, Inc. p. 99. ISBN 9781451641424. 
  4. ^ "The Institute". Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute. 
  5. ^ Anderson, Diane. "In Memoriam". Yoga Journal. 
  6. ^ a b YOGA GURU K. PATTABHI JOIS IS NO MORE. RIP., churumuri
  7. ^ a b Stern, Eddie. Foreword in "Yoga Mala" by Pattabhi Jois. New York: North Point Press, 2002.
  8. ^ The second most famous Mysorean in the world, churumuri
  9. ^ a b At the pearly gates in dhoti, vibhuti, pump shoes, Sunaad Raghuram, churumuri
  10. ^ a b c d Krishna Pattabhi Jois, Leading Expert in Yoga, Dies at 93, The New York Times
  11. ^ Singleton, Mark (2010). Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice (Kindle Edition ed.). USA: Oxford University Press. p. Kindle Locations 3658–3664. ISBN 978-0195395341. 
  12. ^ Iyengar, B.K.S. (2000). Astadala Yogamala 1. New Delhi, India: Allied Publishers. p. 53. ISBN 978-8177640465. 
  13. ^ Singleton, Mark (2010). Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice (Kindle Edition ed.). USA: Oxford University Press. p. Kindle Locations 3481–3482. ISBN 978-0195395341. 
  14. ^ a b c Jois @ work: ‘Bad lady, why forgetting bakasana?’, churumuri
  15. ^ "3 Gurus, 48 Questions" (PDF). Interview by R. Alexander Medin. Namarupa (Fall 2004): 9. 2004. Archived from the original on March 7, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Sjoman, N.E. (1999). The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace. New Delhi, India: Abhinav Publications. p. 49. ISBN 81-7017-389-2. 
  17. ^ Sjoman, N.E. (1999). The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace (2nd ed.). New Delhi, India: Abhinav Publications. p. 49. ISBN 81-7017-389-2. 
  18. ^ Sjoman, N.E. (1999). The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace (2nd ed.). New Delhi, India: Abhinav Publications. p. 5. ISBN 81-7017-389-2. 
  19. ^ Ruiz, Fernando. "Krishnamacharya's Legacy". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  20. ^ Singleton, Mark (2010). Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice. USA: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195395341. 
  21. ^ "K. Pattabhi Jois". Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute. Archived from the original on March 16, 2016. 
  22. ^ "Guruji". Ashtanga Yoga New York. Archived from the original on June 14, 2012. 
  23. ^ a b c Pattabhi Jois, Founder of Ashtanga Yoga, Passes Away at Age 93, Huffington Post
  24. ^ a b Yoga exponent Pattabhi Jois dead, The Hindu
  25. ^ Yoga pioneer Pattabhi Jois dies, BBC News
  26. ^ "Caroline Klebl: Returning to the Source". LAYOGA. Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  27. ^ a b c K. Pattabhi Jois, leading teacher of Ashtanga yoga, dies at 94, Los Angeles Times
  28. ^ Guru, a film by Robert Wilkins
  29. ^ a b "Pattabhi Jois", The Economist, June 4, 2009, archived from the original on December 3, 2011 
  30. ^ Lawrence, Stewart (April 19, 2013). "The Travails of Yoga Mogul Bikram Choudhury". CounterPunch. Archived from the original on May 7, 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Good Touch, Bad Touch: Gurus, Power, and Adjusting vs. Groping on the Yoga Mat", YogaDork, December 9, 2010, archived from the original on September 13, 2011 
  32. ^ "Yoga Teacher FAIL…Is that Pattabhi Jois? [photo]", YogaDork, September 14, 2009, archived from the original on July 6, 2012 
  33. ^ "When do Yoga Adjustments cross the line?", Elephant Journal, September 22, 2009, archived from the original on July 21, 2012 
  34. ^ "Have you Experienced: Sexual Harassment in Yoga Class?", Elephant Journal, January 4, 2010 
  35. ^ Lucas, Anneke. "The Question Of Gurus: Who's Got The Power?". YogaCity NYC. Archived from the original on March 27, 2013. 
  36. ^ Singleton, Mark; Byrne, Jean, eds. (2008). Yoga in the Modern World: Contemporary Perspectives (Kindle Edition ed.). New York, USA: Routledge. p. Kindle Locations 4178–4179. ISBN 0415452589. 
  37. ^ Fortini, Amanda (June 15–22, 2009). "Ommm Sweaty: Saluting yoga entrepreneur Jois". New York. 
  38. ^ http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2012/04/krishna-pattanbhi-trophy-wife-ashtanga-yoga
  39. ^ http://m.indianexpress.com/news/yoga-is-as-yoga-does/945051/
  40. ^ http://greenwich.patch.com/groups/business-news/p/east-meets-west-greenwich-s-ashtanga-yoga-studio
  41. ^ http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/lifestyle/peace-love-and-misunderstanding-a-billionaires-wife-spreads-her-message-of-calm-one-yoga-pose-at-a-time/story-e6frf00i-1226315273654
  42. ^ http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/the-corruption-of-yoga-20120712-21y58.html
  • Stern, Eddie and Summerbell, Deirdre, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois: A Tribute. New York: Eddie Stern and Gwyneth Paltrow, 2002.

External links[edit]