T.K.V. Desikachar used the term–Viniyoga, in describing his father’s method, T. Krishnamacharya, a revered teacher who developed this method during his old age.


Viniyoga employs an individualized approach, enabling each student to create a practice that’s best for their state of health and unique stage of life. Whether it is performed in a group or not, this style of yoga is tailored to suit the specific needs of a particular person.

Viniyoga differs from Vinyasa, it focuses on adaptation. It employs a holistic, healing approach to practicing yoga; this approach is designed specifically to improve the health and well-being of each student.

See viniyoga as a physical therapy through yoga or having a personal teacher that will guide you as you practice yoga. This is so because the instructor works directly with the student, and designs the student’s workouts to suit their needs.

People who have an illness or injury or any other physical concerns will find this type of yoga style interesting because it is tailored to suit their specific needs.

What is Viniyoga?

This style of yoga is a student/guru model in which the teacher works individually with each student. The yoga instructor designs a personalized yoga routine for a student, the program is influenced by any physical condition, health, and age. Viniyoga also considers previous or current illnesses or injuries before creating a personalized yoga program.

A typical yoga class is more of a one-size-fits-all approach. You are required to force your body to adapt to every poses even if the poses don’t fit your body.

The teacher will want to find out if you are suffering from any injury or illness, you are not required to share any personal physical condition. For instance, two students may be suffering from back pain, but the cause of this back pain differs. The teacher is tasked to provide each student with different modifications specifically designed to the primary cause of their illness or injury.

Any individual can adapt to this style of yoga, irrespective of age, illness or physical ability. Because of the methods involved in viniyoga, teachers or instructors are highly skilled, and most of them are anatomy and yoga healing experts.

History of Viniyoga

This yoga style is the legacy of guru Krishnamacharya, Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar were his students. Jois and Iyengar are arguably the most popular figures in sharing yoga knowledge to the west early 1970s.

T.K.V. Desikachar, the son of Krishnamacharya, continued with the teachings of his father, he founded the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandirum (KYM) located in Chennai, India. And he described his yoga style as Viniyoga.

Desikachar suffered from ill health and dementia, he died in August 2016. His son, Kausthub led the KYM for some period. In 2013, Kausthub stepped down due to mental accusation and physical abuse from female students.

The most prominent American advocate of the teachings of T.K.V Desikachar is Gary kraftsow, founder of the American Viniyoga Institute. Leslie Kaminoff is another notable student; Leslie founded The Breathing Project in New York and is also a co-author of Chase Bossart and Yoga Anatomy.

Who is Viniyoga for?

This style of yoga may include pranayama, asana, meditation, and chanting; however, it is based on the need of the student. This yoga style is very adaptable; thus, it makes it easy for people with physical disabilities, injury or illness to practice yoga.

Viniyoga is simple and slow, but not that exclusive. If a student is more skilled, his routine will be changed to fit him.

Viniyoga also focuses on body alignment, and postures are maintained for a consistent number of breaths, and rest periods in between. Even though this yoga style can be taught in a group, don’t expect it to be a place you will not be noticed. Your instructor will want to know you so he or she can tailor routines suitable to you.

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