K. Pattabhi Jois

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

K. Pattabhi Jois (Kannada: ಶ್ರೀ ಕೃಷ್ಣ ಪಟ್ಟಾಭಿ ಜೋಯೀಸರು) (26 July 1915[1] – 18 May 2009[2]) was an Indian yoga teacher who developed the popular vinyāsa style of yoga referred to as 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 26 July 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 teacher,[17] which Iyengar has refuted.[18]


Although Jois has claimed that his Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system is based on an ancient text called Yoga Korunta, Jois has indicated that he has never read this text.[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.[citation needed]

According to Tim Miller, Pattabhi Jois continued to practice asanas until his son Ramesh committed suicide when Jois was 42 [25]

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.[26]

In 1964, a Belgian named André Van Lysebeth spent two months with Jois learning the primary and intermediate series 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][16]

He also gained attention from celebrity students including Madonna, Sting, and Gwyneth Paltrow [27]

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.[28] He would return to the US several times over the next 20 years, to teach yoga at Encinitas and beyond.[28] He also regularly travelled to Sydney, Australia, where some of his advanced students were based.[citation needed]

He wrote the book Yoga Mālā, in Kannada in 1958, and it was published in 1962, but was not published in English until 1999.[28] The film Guru was made about him by Robert Wilkins.[29]

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 18 May 2009 when he died aged 93 of natural causes.


A range of obituaries for Jois were published in many newspapers and journals, including the New York Times,[30] the Financial Times,[31] the BBC,[32] the Guardian,[33] the Huffington Post,[34] the Economist,[35] the LA Times [36] and the Times of London.[37]

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."[38]


The Economist published an obituary which questioned Jois's adherence to the yogic principle of ahimsa or non-violence and highlighted 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."[35] 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.[35] CounterPunch in a magazine article indicated that Jois was a "reported sexual abuser of students."[39] Accusations of inappropriate touching of women by Jois during yoga classes also surfaced on YogaDork.[40][41] Elephant Journal published an article entitled When do Yoga Adjustments cross the line? with a photo of Jois adjusting female students[42] and another article entitled Have you Experienced: Sexual Harassment in Yoga Class? showing the same photo.[43] In an article appearing on YogaCity NYC, a female student reported she was groped by Jois during a class in New York.[44]

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."[45]


Jois' grandson R. Sharath Jois teamed with Sonia Klein Jones, to create Jois Yoga in honor of Krishna Pattabhi Jois.[46][47][48][49][50]


  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. ^ At the pearly gates in dhoti, vibhuti, pump shoes, Sunaad Raghuram, churumuri
  10. ^ a b c 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 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 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. ^ . Interview by R. Alexander Medin. "3 Gurus, 48 Questions" (PDF). Namarupa (Fall 2004): 9. 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 March 2013. Retrieved 30 March 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 16 March 2013. 
  22. ^ "Guruji". Ashtanga Yoga New York. Archived from the original on 14 June 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. ^ http://www.ashtanga.com/html/article_miller_tim.html
  26. ^ Yoga pioneer Pattabhi Jois dies, BBC News
  27. ^ Yoga Body
  28. ^ a b c K. Pattabhi Jois, leading teacher of Ashtanga yoga, dies at 94, Los Angeles Times
  29. ^ Guru, a film by Robert Wilkins
  30. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/21/world/asia/21jois.html?_r=0.  Missing or empty |title= (help) |title= Krishna Pattabhi Jois, Leading Expert in Yoga, Dies at 93 |
  31. ^ http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/23d87998-4cb1-11de-a6c5-00144feabdc0.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help) |title= The guru who introduced Ashtanga yoga to the west
  32. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8058905.stm.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  33. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jun/08/k-pattabhi-jois-obituary-yoga.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  34. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/waylon-lewis/pattabhi-jois-founder-of_b_204938.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  35. ^ a b c "Pattabhi Jois", The Economist, 4 June 2009, archived from the original on 3 December 2011 
  36. ^ http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-pattabhi-jois22-2009may22-story.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  37. ^ http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/obituaries/article2085393.ece.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  38. ^ Fortini, Amanda (15–22 June 2009). "Ommm Sweaty: Saluting yoga entrepreneur Jois". New York. 
  39. ^ Lawrence, Stewart (19 April 2013). "The Travails of Yoga Mogul Bikram Choudhury". CounterPunch. Archived from the original on 7 May 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  40. ^ "Good Touch, Bad Touch: Gurus, Power, and Adjusting vs. Groping on the Yoga Mat", YogaDork, 9 December 2010, archived from the original on 23 September 2011 
  41. ^ "Yoga Teacher FAIL…Is that Pattabhi Jois? [photo]", YogaDork, 14 September 2009, archived from the original on 5 June 2012 
  42. ^ "When do Yoga Adjustments cross the line?", Elephant Journal, 22 September 2009, archived from the original on 19 July 2012 
  43. ^ "Have you Experienced: Sexual Harassment in Yoga Class?", Elephant Journal, 4 January 2010 
  44. ^ Lucas, Anneke. "The Question Of Gurus: Who's Got The Power?". YogaCity NYC. Archived from the original on 27 March 2013. 
  45. ^ Singleton, Mark; Byrne, Jean, eds. (2008). Yoga in the Modern World: Contemporary Perspectives (Kindle ed.). New York, USA: Routledge. p. Kindle Locations 4178–4179. ISBN 0415452589. 
  46. ^ http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2012/04/krishna-pattanbhi-trophy-wife-ashtanga-yoga
  47. ^ http://m.indianexpress.com/news/yoga-is-as-yoga-does/945051/
  48. ^ http://greenwich.patch.com/groups/business-news/p/east-meets-west-greenwich-s-ashtanga-yoga-studio
  49. ^ 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
  50. ^ http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/the-corruption-of-yoga-20120712-21y58.html

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