Traditions and Lineages

As practiced here in the United States, yoga is a relatively recent phenomenon and is quickly taking on its own characteristics. In most cases, it is hatha yoga, which refers to the physical poses.

Three Influential Lineages and One Source


was the root of contemporary hatha yoga

T.K.V. Desikachar

  • Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram:  As Krishnamacharya’s son, Desikachar carried on the tradition  Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois (See below). His book, The Heart of Yoga, is the defining text of this tradition. Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation (SKY Yoga ).  There were several recent scandals concerning sexual abuse and misconduct by Desikarchar’s own son with female students. Desikarchar himself no longer teaches because of advanced stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • American followers:

B.K.S. Iyengar

 Pattabhi Jois

Other Indian Currents

  • Integral Yoga – Satchidananda Ashram (better known as Yogaville, VA) ::: Integral Yoga Institute of New York ::: San Francisco – Sri Swami Satchidananda was the guru who blessed the Woodstock Festival in 1969. He passed on in 2002.
  • Kripalu: both a yoga retreat/center in Massachusetts and a specific style of yoga that originated in the center.
  • Bikram Choudhury: now infamous because of his efforts to copywrite a sequence of yoga positions and force royalty payments, but his business model is still a popular approach: the room is headed to 104 degrees and humid. The program consists of a series of 26 asanas, performed in the same sequence.
  • Kundalini yoga was brought to the States by Yogi Bhajan in 1969. It focuses on the controlled release of Kundalini energy. But I can’t seem to find a site that really centralizes the school. Kundalini and 3H0 ::: Sri Swami Sivanandaji
  • Satyananda Yoga: This lineage was founded by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, who died in December 2009, and represents an Indian-focused spiritual movement. What sets it apart is a collection of literature on all aspects of yoga and interpretion of the classic texts. It is also known as the Bihar School of  Yoga.   Australian site ::: Atma Center (USA) ::: Yoga Academy of North America
  • Swami Vivekananda: a major historical figure in India and the West (bio and bio of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society of Boston). ::: RamaKrishan Math

American Lineages

  • Anusara: John Friend’s American synthesis of yoga and tantric philosophy. Anusara means “flowing with grace” in Sanskrit. Also see Douglas Brooks’s Rajanaka Yoga for the historical and pedagogical lineage of this thinking.
  • Jivamukti Yoga: Sharon Gannon and David Life led this influential (even trendy) center in NYC.
  • Baron Baptiste, charismatic and intense as a teacher, is based in Boston, but teaches all over the country and the world. Power vinyasa yoga is what he calls his style.

Classic Texts

As you might guess, there are many online copies of the classical yogic texts, as well as excellent print versions. Experts devote life times to understanding them.


Individual yoga instructors or their studios have additional content that might be of use to anyone learning yoga.

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