Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributions

By TNT Bureau

Mar 18, 2016: We are all aware of the goodness of yoga, which has been an intrinsic part of the India for over 5,000 years. In December 2014, the United Nations has also recognized yoga a holistic approach to health and well-being.

Here we list out the 15 most famous yoga gurus of the world. This list is not based on their popularity, as every yoga guru has his/her own contributions. The list of names are placed in alphabetical order.

Ana Forrest

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsAna Forrest, the developer of Forrest yoga, is an internationally recognized pioneer in yoga and emotional healing. In her search to become a better healer and teacher, she studied Native American medicine and ceremony, homeopathy, hands-on healing, martial arts, psychotherapy and regression therapy.

With thousands of licensed practitioners around the world, Forrest Yoga is renowned as an intensely physical, internally focused practice that emphasizes how to carry a transformative experience off the mat and into daily life.


Baron Baptiste

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsBaron Baptiste, the inventor of Power Yoga, is a celebrated yoga teacher of America. The son of yoga pioneers Walt and Magana Baptiste, Baron Baptise is the owner of Baptiste Power Yoga Institutes, spread across America where he teaches his own style of yoga known as Baptiste Power Vinyasa.

Power Yoga is practice in a heated room that allows a yogi to reach greater dimensions of self. Baron Baptiste studied Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram, and Raja yogas. He lives with his family in Salt Lake City and runs his NGO—Africa Yoga Project, which has brought free yoga to thousands of students in Kenya.


Bikram Choudhury

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsBikramChoudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga, is a popular yoga guru of Indian origin who was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) India. He is known to have bagged the National India Yoga Championship for 3 succesive years.

Bikram Yoga is a form of hot yoga which isperformed in a sequence of 26 hatha yoga poses in temperatures as hot as 104 °F or 40 °C. This yoga form has gained a lot of popularity across the world and now has huge number of devotees.

Currently, there are a number of Bikram yoga studios spread across the world including countries such as the US, China, Indonesia, Italy, Peru, Chile, Jamaica, Peru and Mexico.


BKS Iyengar

\Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsBKS. Iyengar the founder of Iyengar Yoga was born in 1918 in Mysore( now Karnataka)India and died in 2014 at the age of 95.

Mr. Iyengar developed and promoted what came to be called Iyengar yoga with precise poses and the use of props such as wooden blocks and belts to achieve perfect alignment. He is the author of “Light on Yoga,” a renowned yoga treatise.

Fans of Mr. Iyengar’s style of yoga include American businesswoman Martha Stewart and actor Michael Richards, who played Cosmo Kramer in the American television show Seinfeld.
Iyengar had many followers in India as well. In 1975, he started the RamamaniIyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune. Iyengar practitioners throughout India also teach this discipline.


John Friend

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsJohn Friend, the creator of Anusara Yoga is a widely recognized yoga teacher of America. He is the former student of B.K.S. Iyengar from whom he learnt Hatha Yoga and it was then that he drew inspiration and invented Ansura Yoga.

Currently, the Ansura School of Hatha Yoga or ASHY has gained a lot of popularity which is situated across America, Europe and Canand.

The vision of ASHY is to maintain the high standards of the Anusara Yoga methodology, foster a community that supports teachers and studios, honors the custom of Anusara Yoga and the viewpoint at its core, and encourages modernism and creative expression.


Kate Potter

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsKate Potter, the host of Namaste Yoga is a British Columbia-based instructor and yoga therapist. She specializes in dynamic Hatha Vinyasa Flow yoga. Her sequences challenge even the most experienced yogi, but each session is friendly to a beginner.

She is an internationally well-known yoga instructor and her students include the beginning yogi as well as a number of celebrities.

Namaste Yoga is an instructional yoga television series produced by Namaste TV, a division of Omnifilm Entertainment. Seasons 1 and 2 were produced in 2004 and choreographed by Kate Potter. Each episode of Namaste Yoga teaches a unique Hatha Vinyasa style movement sequence.


K Pattabhi Jois

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributions

K Pattabhi Jois, the inventor of Ashtanga Yoga was born in 1915 in the Indian state of Karnataka and he left for the heavenly abode in 2009 at the age of 93.

Born to a middle class family, he began practising yoga at an early age of 12 from his guru Sri T. Krishnamacharya.

Ashtanga Yoga involves synchronizing the breath with a progressive sequence of poses—a procedure producing intense internal heat and a plentiful purifying sweat that helps to detoxify organs and muscles. Popular teachers of Jois’ method include Larry Schultz, Beryl Bender Birch and David Kelman.


Lakshmi Voelker

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsLakshmi Voelker, the founder of Chair Yoga is a certified Kripalu Yoga instructor, a yoga therapist, and a member of the Yoga Alliance. She has studied, practiced, and taught Yoga and other Eastern disciplines since 1969.

From her early years, she integrated these disciplines with Western health concepts. Her focus has always been to improve her students’ health and wellness by making the integration of these disciplines accessible to the broadest audience possible.

Chair yoga is based on the 5000-year-old yoga postures or asanas and breathing techniques as well as other Eastern and Western movements her students find beneficial.  Lakshmi has modified these poses for the chair making the health and fitness benefits accessible to everyone.


Lilias Folan

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsLiliasFolan also known as Swami Kavitananda is “First Lady of Yoga” since her groundbreaking 1972 PBS television series, Lilias! Yoga and You. She is regarded as one of America’s most knowledgeable and respected master yoga teachers.

Timemagazine calls her the “Julia Child of Yoga” and she was described by Yoga International magazine as one of “four fearless women who changed Yoga’s destiny.



Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsMaharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of transcendental meditation was born in 1917 in Jabalpur India and he passed away in 2008. The transcendental meditation allows anyone to experience and utilize the source of infinite intelligence and creativity within the field of pure consciousness.

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the Maharishi achieved fame as the guru to the Beatles, The Beach Boys and other celebrities. In 1971 Maharishi founded Maharishi International University (later renamed Maharishi University of Management) and developed Consciousness-Based education so that students could discover the field of pure consciousness within themselves as the source of all knowledge.


Paramahansa Yogananda

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsParamahansa Yogananda  or Mukunda Lal Ghosh, the creator of Kriya Yoga was born in Uttar Pradesh India in 1983 and he left for the heavenly abode on 7 March 1952 at 59 years of age.

A well-known Indian yogi and guru, he was the one who introduced millions of westerners to the teachings of meditation and indeed Kriya Yoga.

The science of Kriya Yoga is the foundation of Yogananda’s teachings. Kriya Yoga is union (yoga) with the Infinite through a certain action or rite (kriya). The Sanskrit root of kriya is kri, to do, to act and react.

Baba Ramdev

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsRamdev born as Ramkrishna Yadav , better known as Baba Ramdev is credited with popularizing the practice of  Kapalbhati and Anulom-vilom. His main motive is to communicate that yoga is not only for yogis but for commoners as well.

He founded the DivyaYogMandir Trust in 1995. In 2003, Aastha TV began featuring him in its morning yoga slot. There he proved to be telegenic and gained a large following. A large number of people and many celebrities in India and abroad have attended his yoga camps. He has taught yoga to many Bollywood actors including Amitabh Bachchan and Shilpa Shetty.

He became the first non-Muslim to publicly address Muslim clerics at their seminary in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh and has taught yoga in countries including Britain, the USA and Japan

Ravi Shankar

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsRavi Shankar or better known as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, is credited with popularizing the rhythm in breathing practice which is known as SudarshanKriya.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian and spiritual leader, an ambassador of peace and human values. Through his life and work, Sri Sri has inspired millions around the world with a vision of a stress-free, violence-free world.

He has founded courses that provide techniques and tools to live a deeper, more joyous life and he has established nonprofit organizations that recognize a common human identity above the boundaries of race, nationality, and religion.

Swami Sivananda

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsSwami Sivananda, the founder of Sivananda Yoga was born in 1887 In Tamil Nadu India and left for the heavenly abode in 1963 at the age of 75.

He was the founder of the Divine Life Society (DLS) in 1936, Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy (1948) and author of over 200 books on yoga, Vedanta and a variety of subjects.

The Sivananda yoga aims to retain the vitality of the body and decrease chance of disease by simply and naturally cultivating the body and mind of the practitioner. Sivananda Yoga class is a traditional, slow paced, meditative class that helps encourage proper breathing, flexibility, strength and vitality in the body while calming the mind.

Tirumalai Krishnamacharya

Top 15 yoga gurus and their contributionsTirumalai Krishnamacharya, the founder of Modern yoga was born in 1888 in Mysore and died in 1989; He is regarded as the one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century and is credited with the revival of hatha yoga.

Mainly known as a healer, he mixed his knowledge of both Ayurveda and yoga to restore health. Under the patronage of the Maharaja of Mysore, he toured around India to promote yoga. He had a control over his heartbeats and he is believed to have mastered the art of holding the beats too.

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