Meet the Yogis
Since time immemorial, several yogis like Adi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Chidananda Saraswati along with many other stalwarts propagated various styles and techniques of Yoga. Modern age yoga gurus have not only evolved their own styles revolving around the core essence of Patanjali’s eight fold path of Yoga for a healthy living but also combat the complexities of modern lifestyles. Let’s look at the indian yogis that have the most fan following on Youtube.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Often referred to as ‘Sri Sri’ or ‘Guruji’, he is the founder of the ‘Art of Living’ foundation that helps people alleviate various issues like stress, addictions, health problems, eroding human values, etc.and rediscover themselves. Calling himself an ambassador of LDS (Laughter, Sing and Dance), he could recite verses from the ‘Bhagvad Gita’ from an early age of four! In a life altering experience in 1982, Guruji came across ‘Sudarshan Kriya’. This innovative rhythmic breathing practice dawned upon him “like a poem, an inspiration,” after observing silence for ten days on the banks of the Bhadra river in Shimoga. According to him every emotion is reflected in the rhythmic breaths we take and regulating it can help control and alleviate stress arising from various emotions. Apart from ‘Sudarshan Kriya’, ‘Chakra Kriya’ and ‘Shakti Kriya’ are a couple of techniques evolved by Guruji.
Countless followers across the world have innumerable anecdotes, stories and experiences to share about Guruji that reinforce faith and goodness like an instance of a poor farmer in a faraway village near Bangalore was left astounded when he miraculously saw Guruji at his door! The farmer had only seen him on television with a burning desire to meet this great man but could not afford a trip to visit him in his ashram Bangalore. With close to 2,00,000 followers on youtube, you can checkout Guruji’s videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/ArtOfLivingTV.
Swami Ramdev also known as Baba Ramdev is a household name in India. Born in 1965 as Ramkishen Yadav, his knowledge about Yoga can be attributed to his studies of Indian scriptures, Yoga and Sanskrit earlier in life. He is now based at Hardwar, located in the Indian province of Uttarakhand. His popularity increased through a morning slot on an Indian television channel, Astha and his yoga camps helped him gain countless followers across the world. Swami Ramdev has helped cure lifestyle ailments like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, thyroid, etc. through yoga, and especially ‘Pranayam’, a set of breathing exercises of Yoga taught by him. Several followers have benefited immensely from his yoga practices and cured diseases.
Swami Ramdev’s ‘Patanjali’ brand of products is an awe inspiring story! An outcome of extensive research and development of Ayurveda, this brand is all set to give other popular Indian brands a run for their money, set new records and create history in the Indian consumer market. Having introduced yoga to the common man, Swami Ramdev has more than 47,000 followers on youtube. You can take a look at his videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/vkskmrgpt.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev
Indian yogi and mystic, Jaggi Vasudev is more popularly known as ‘Sadhguru’. Born as Jagadish, his friends would call him Jaggi, who started practicing yoga asanas at a young age of 12. An avid biker and traveler, Sadhguru’s life changed after a spiritual experience atop the Chamundi Hills when he was only twenty five. Four and a half hours slipped by while he was in a trance that he thought lasted only for ten fifteen minutes. He decided to share his inner experience after a year of meditation and travel and went to various places on bike conducting free yoga lessons. His complete command and control over the 114 chakras has earned him the title of ‘Chakrashwara’. His very own Isha Yoga is a scientific practice to resolve physical, mental and emotional blocks and uncovering infinite energy in the process, especially the ‘Shambhavi Mahamudra’ for rekindling the inner energy in us that he teaches his followers. Sadhguru’s followers on youtube have crossed the 2,80,000 mark and you can see his videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/sadhguru.
He set up the Isha Foundation that works towards the welfare of mankind and does not bear affinity to any religion or ideology touching millions of lives all over the globe. One such story is of Mrs. Vijaya from Pudukuppam village in Tamil Nadu who lost her only son to an accident. Her world plunged into darkness as she lost all desire to live. She got a fresh lease of life by serving school children at the Cuddalore Isha Vidhya School where she cooked for them. He also established Isha Yoga Centres across various countries to spread the sacred power of yoga. Apart from being an author and celebrated speaker, Sadhguru’s varied interests encompass architecture, poetry, painting, agriculture, sports, music and current affairs.
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar or B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the earliest teachers of yoga in India and the founder of ‘Iyengar Yoga’ has played a commendable role in popularizing the ancient science. Combating various illnesses like malaria, tuberculosis, malnutrition and typhoid left him weak and frail at an early age. His life changed forever after he came in contact with famous yogi Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who helped the young 15 year old Iyengar improve his poor health through yoga.
His experience helped him evolve his own style of yoga that he christened as ‘Iyengar Yoga’ based on eight basic aspects of yoga after years of research and practice that he taught his followers. He practiced yoga asanas even at the ripe age of 90 and taught people with physical disabilities to practice yoga with the help of blocks, ropes, mats and straps and fifty other kinds of props after he himself dislocated his spine in a scooter accident. Sachin Tendulkar, Yehudi Menuhin, Queen Elizabeth of Belgium were some of his followers. He taught Queen Elizabeth his ‘sirsasana’ while resting on his head upside down at the age of eighty! You can take a look at this great yogi imparting yoga lessons here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVIbEEJcaSo.
K Pattabhi Jois
K Pattabhi Jois, a well known Indian yoga teacher, can be accredited with the development of ‘Vinyasa’ style of yoga that is also known as ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ involving the eight limbs. He became a student of well known yogi Tirumalai Krishnamacharya at an early age of 12 and accompanied him to his yoga demonstrations. He flourished as a yoga teacher in Sanskrit College under the patronage of Maharaja of Mysore, Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar. He set up the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute and gained worldwide popularity especially the west and had followers like Madonna, Sting and Gwyneth Paltrow from Hollywood.
Struggles and challenges marked the life of this yoga guru who even begged for food for a few years when he first arrived in Mysore. Overcoming all odds as a young student, his guru started at day break beginning with sun salutations with postures like shoulder stands, head stands, lotus position and meditative rest. A firm believer of the Vedas, he has reiterated the importance of practice in yoga and its impact. You can check out a primary series of ashtanga being taught by K Pattabhi Jois https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUgtMaAZzW0. With the number of followers crossing the 10 million mark, you can check out many of his videos on youtube.