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Debating with your friends who’s the best Yoga coach?

B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, or Bikram Choudhury?

Here is our list of the best Yoga coaches of all time.

Do you agree with our picks?

Best Yoga Coaches:

  1. B.K.S. Iyengar
  2. Pattabhi Jois
  3. Bikram Choudhury
  4. T.K.V. Desikachar
  5. Swami Sivananda
  6. Swami Vishnudevananda
  7. Swami Satyananda
  8. Sri Dharma Mittra
  9. Ana Forrest
  10. Sharon Gannon
  11. David Life

#1 B.K.S. Iyengar

  • πŸ† Achievements: Founder of Iyengar Yoga
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1930s–2014
  • πŸ“– Books Authored: “Light on Yoga,” “Light on Pranayama,” and more
  • 🌐 Nationality: Indian

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, known as B.K.S. Iyengar, is renowned for founding Iyengar Yogaβ€”a form of Yoga known for its focus on precision and alignment with the use of props such as belts and blocks.

Iyengar played a significant role in popularizing Yoga in the West, traveling internationally to teach his method. His authoritative text, “Light on Yoga,” has been considered the definitive guide to asana practice and philosophy for generations.

As one of the earliest students of T. Krishnamacharya, Iyengar’s influence on modern postural Yoga is profound. He taught many students who themselves became influential Yoga teachers, and his teachings continue to shape Yoga practice worldwide.

#2 Pattabhi Jois

  • πŸ† Achievements: Developed Ashtanga Yoga
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1927–2009
  • πŸ“– Books Authored: “Yoga Mala”
  • 🌐 Nationality: Indian

Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois is credited with the development of Ashtanga Yoga, a dynamic, flowing style of Yoga characterized by its set series of poses and a special breathing technique known as Ujjayi.

His teachings became widely recognized after he established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India, attracting students from around the world.

Jois’s book “Yoga Mala” is a seminal text that outlines the philosophy and practice of Ashtanga Yoga, and his method is one of the most rigorous and physically demanding styles of Yoga.

#3 Bikram Choudhury

  • πŸ† Achievements: Creator of Bikram Yoga
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1970s–Present
  • πŸ§˜β€β™€οΈ Yoga Institutions: Bikram Yoga studios worldwide
  • 🌐 Nationality: Indian

Bikram Choudhury is the founder of Bikram Yoga, also known as “hot yoga,” which consists of a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises performed in a room heated to approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

His method gained popularity for its intense physical challenge and purported health benefits, leading to the opening of affiliated studios around the globe.

Choudhury’s legacy is complex, as passionate followers commend his Yoga practice for transforming lives, while he has faced controversy, including copyright claims and allegations of misconduct.

#4 T.K.V. Desikachar

  • πŸ† Achievements: Developer of the Viniyoga approach
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1960s–2016
  • πŸ§˜β€β™€οΈ Yoga Institutions: The Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram
  • 🌐 Nationality: Indian

Tirumalai Krishnamacharya Venkata Desikachar, commonly known as T.K.V. Desikachar, is renowned for developing the Viniyoga approach, which emphasizes personalizing Yoga practices to the individual’s changing needs.

As the son of the revered teacher T. Krishnamacharya, Desikachar continued his father’s legacy by interpreting his teachings for a broader audience.

Desikachar founded the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai, India, an institution dedicated to teaching and healing through Yoga, and authored several books on Yoga therapy and philosophy.

#5 Swami Sivananda

  • πŸ† Achievements: Founder of the Divine Life Society
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1920s–1963
  • πŸ“– Books Authored: Over 200 books on Yoga and philosophy
  • 🌐 Nationality: Indian

Swami Sivananda was a Hindu spiritual teacher and a proponent of Yoga and Vedanta. He founded the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh, India, and played a pivotal role in spreading the knowledge of Yoga and Hinduism worldwide.

His teachings emphasize universality, serving others, and the development of the individual’s full potentialβ€”spiritual, mental, and physical.

Sivananda authored over 200 books, providing a prolific and accessible body of work on Yoga practice, health, philosophy, and spirituality that continues to inspire practitioners.

#6 Swami Vishnudevananda

  • πŸ† Achievements: Established the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1950s–1993
  • πŸ“– Books Authored: “The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga”
  • 🌐 Nationality: Indian

Swami Vishnudevananda was a disciple of Swami Sivananda and founded the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, with a mission of promoting peace and understanding through Yoga and Vedanta.

He wrote “The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga,” which has been an influential text since its publication in the 1960s.

Widely regarded as an authority on Hatha and Raja Yoga, Swami Vishnudevananda was a pioneer of the Yoga teacher training program and has trained thousands of Yoga instructors worldwide.

#7 Swami Satyananda

  • πŸ† Achievements: Founder of the Bihar School of Yoga
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1950s–2009
  • πŸ§˜β€β™€οΈ Yoga Institutions: Bihar School of Yoga, Sivananda Math, Yoga Research Foundation
  • πŸ“– Books Authored: “Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha” and others
  • 🌐 Nationality: Indian

Swami Satyananda Saraswati, a disciple of Swami Sivananda, is best known for founding the Bihar School of Yoga in India, which has become a leading institution for Yoga education worldwide.

He authored comprehensive texts, including “Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha,” considered essential reading for Yoga practitioners and instructors.

Satyananda’s teachings encompass a holistic approach, integrating aspects of service (karma Yoga), devotion (bhakti Yoga), and Tantra along with Hatha Yoga practices.

#8 Sri Dharma Mittra

  • πŸ† Achievements: Formation of Dharma Yoga
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1960s–Present
  • πŸ§˜β€β™€οΈ Yoga Institutions: Dharma Yoga Center, New York City
  • 🌐 Nationality: Brazilian

Sri Dharma Mittra is a dedicated disciple of Swami Kailashananda and is known for the creation of the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures and the development of Dharma Yoga, a system based on classical Hatha-Raja Yoga.

He established the Dharma Yoga Center in New York City, where he continues to teach and inspire students with his spiritual vitality and experience.

Dharma Mittra’s teaching style reflects his compassionate approach to Yoga, encouraging self-realization and a journey toward inner peace.

#9 Ana Forrest

  • πŸ† Achievements: Development of Forrest Yoga
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1970s–Present
  • πŸ§˜β€β™€οΈ Yoga Institutions: Forrest Yoga Circles
  • 🌐 Nationality: American

Ana Forrest is the creator of Forrest Yoga, a modern approach to Hatha Yoga that emphasizes breath, strength, integrity, and spirit.

Her own personal journey of healing inspired her to develop a Yoga practice that specifically addresses the stresses and challenges of contemporary life, with a strong focus on emotional healing and transformation.

Forrest is recognized for her powerful teaching style and the depth of her knowledge, which she shares through international workshops and teacher training courses.

#10 Sharon Gannon

  • πŸ† Achievements: Co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1980s–Present
  • πŸ§˜β€β™€οΈ Yoga Institutions: Jivamukti Yoga Schools
  • 🌐 Nationality: American

Sharon Gannon, alongside her partner David Life, co-founded Jivamukti Yogaβ€”a path to enlightenment through compassion for all beings.

Jivamukti Yoga is recognized for integrating strict Asana practice with social activism, veganism, and teachings from the scriptures.

Gannon’s contribution to the modern Yoga movement emphasizes a holistic lifestyle that extends Yoga’s principles beyond the mat into daily life.

#11 David Life

  • πŸ† Achievements: Co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga
  • πŸ“… Years Active: 1980s–Present
  • πŸ§˜β€β™€οΈ Yoga Institutions: Jivamukti Yoga Schools
  • 🌐 Nationality: American

David Life, with Sharon Gannon, has been instrumental in the development of Jivamukti Yoga, which has attracted a vast following worldwide for its vigorous Asana practice and ethical, spiritual teachings.

He has been a pioneer in making Yoga accessible and relevant for the modern world, infusing it with a passion for animal rights and environmentalism.

Life’s innovative approach to teaching is encapsulated in the five tenets of Jivamukti Yoga and thrives at Jivamukti Yoga Schools globally.

Yoga

FAQ

Who is the greatest Yoga coach of all time?

The greatest Yoga coach is widely subjective, but T. Krishnamacharya is revered for his influential teaching and knowledge.

Who was the most successful Yoga coach?

The most successful Yoga coach could be considered T. Krishnamacharya, credited for training prominent teachers and shaping modern Yoga.

Gladis is a certified mindfulness and yoga teacher by House of Om in Bali, Indonesia. She leads happiness experiments, a retreat that draws into modern science and ancient traditions to cultivate joy. She is a a slow traveler who likes to stay in one country for at least a month to fully experience the local life. She’s currently slow traveling Europe. On her blog, Happiness on The Way, you’ll find a collection of off-the-beaten-path places, wellness retreats, and thrilling adventures.

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