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‘An overly brief and incomplete history of yoga’ Flowchart!

in YD News, Yoga Origins

Presenting ‘An overly brief and incomplete history of yoga’ in flowchart form! Oh, how we love charts, especially flowy ones about yoga history.

Via an overly generous and amply free time-blessed Alison Hinks.

Brief? Incomplete? We think she did a pretty bangin’ job. And we love how it breaks into some modern day yogis. Which brings up the question once again, is lineage important to you in finding your teacher and finding your yoga?

Click image to enlarge. View PDF version



39 comments… add one
  • This flowchart is fantastic. Understanding the tradition for me is essential to my practice.

  • mimi

    I remember when I started doing yoga and people were, like, what kind of yoga and then saying a bunch of words I didn’t understand, which made me feel really inadequate, and possibly like I was doing the wrong thing.

    However, now that I do a lot more yoga (almost all Anusara, which I now know the word for) I’m more interested in the understanding the nuances that distinguish the different branches. Just as I’m learning more yoga philosophy as I deepen my practice, I’m interested in the genealogy as well–and, certainly, sometimes partcipating in a vigorous Ashtanga class, or a hot yoga class, or whatever is on offer when I travel, sheds light on the tradition I practice in, just by contrast. So it’s useful to see the connections and disconnections here is chart form!

    • Ali


      • I mean, chart forms are usually pretty useful, right?

        I teach digital design: would it be okay if I assigned your chart to my design students? Most of the charts we look at are for politics or tech stuff. I love the idea of a major infographic for, um, yooooogggggggaaaaa. Which seems more tie-dye than hierarchies, huh?

        • Ali

          Uhm, I would be totally honored. From a real digital design teacher, for real digital design students! My mind is blown!

  • What a cool chart! Thank you, Alison, for putting it together for us. I love open-source cool creations.

  • Ali

    Thank you Christa!

  • pam

    I’m surprised not to see Gary Kraftsow or Mark Whitwell, two phenomenal teachers, under TKV Desikachar. πŸ™

  • pam

    OOps…reference my last comment….I believe Mark also studied with Krishnamacharya himself.

  • i think the problem with lineages shows up in pam’s comment above; who else is missing?

    my first questions therefore, are, is it safe and effective?

    next, can the practice be improved, informed, or impacted by current medical or scientific knowledge?

    third, do i even like or need whatever it is that’s being considered?

    after all, the question, “is lineage important to you in finding your teacher and finding your yoga?” puts it back on me, “my” yoga πŸ˜‰

    my yoga is already centered in a life long interest in the arts, music, dance, art, etc – mingled with latin-saturated old school catholic mysticism – bolstered by an over-active imagination

    i need science and fact to ground/balance me

    you may be approaching equilibrium from the other 180ΒΊ direction, so your questions would sound similar, to me, as those i already find in the arts and my growing-up-years

    either way, the poster is still useful and fun – and who’s gonna ever be able to name everyone that everyone wants named anyways πŸ˜‰

  • that is interesting and useful; thanks for posting. i wonder where Ramaswami falls.

    • Ali

      He studied with Krishnamacharya, Arturo πŸ™‚

  • um, brilliant! that’s a great question about lineage and importance for choosing a teacher. During my teacher training, any reading I had to do on dualism or even Pantanjali made me nauseaus and sick to my stomach. When we got to Buddhism, it was like a light turned on and yoga was my friend again! (I know you’re gonna dork that out, huh?)

    The B-man rules.

  • aja

    Very cool! But there is a small type – its not Amit Desai, but Amrit.

  • This is amazing. Thank you! I can tell I’ll be playing with it for hours.

    I just wrote on figuring out the not just excercise part. The vast stew of archaic and modern, metaphysic and science, spiritual and practical.

  • I really dig this! It’s beautifully done. I printed it out in pieces, taped it together, and stuck it on the wall next to my desk so I can absorb little bits of yoga history while I’m at work.

    • Ali

      Well, that is amazing!! Wow! so touched. πŸ™‚

  • Finally! I’ve been drawing up something very similar for 6 years in our 200 hour TT, focusing mostly on Krishnamacharya and his modern day influence. I link up Anusara and Shiva Rea with Tantra. You could also throw Yin and Shadow Yoga on there. Overall, it really helps students situate themselves and understand the influence in philosophy, even sequencing – yeah, the Baron sequence has a good amount of backbends (compared to Primary Series) because Baron spent time with Bikram – it makes sense. Well done! How do you feel about folks using it in trainings?

  • Alison, I very much love this chart. Is there a poster available for sale?

  • Alison, I love this chart but I would suggest adding Srivatsa Ramaswami, a direct student of Krishnamacharya for 30 years, connect him to T.K.V. Desikachar and have Mark Whitwell as the lineage holder.

  • Very interested in the historical perspective. Thanks much for sharing! Can you recommend a site or book with more details and maybe a bibliography? I’m particularly interested in the various yoga philosophies and how they have emerged, comparisons with Buddhist and Hindu thought, etc.

  • really interesting and finally some things make sense! Awesome to see how some popular modern guru types evolved…

  • Pretty good, except I am really surprised to see nothing from the Bhakti Yoga tradition….. ? That would make sense to me if this was a chart of the Hatha lineages only, but you’ve got the Advaita path in there, so why not the Bhaktas? Seems odd to me considering that some form of kirtan music is played in the vast majority of western yoga classes.

  • Wow! Pretty chart! Unfortunately, very misleading. For example, I’ve studied quite a bit with rod stryker, and while he mentions manny, he never mentions Shivananda; instead, he constantly and publicly credits Krishnamacharya, whose influences most certainly do NOT come from Sivananada. Nice try, but please get the facts straight before spreading misinformation in such an efficient fashion.

    • Ali

      Hi Bradd! Thanks for your help! -Ali

    • Ali

      It is def more complex than this! πŸ™‚ But jsyk I got that info from Mr. Stryker’s site…”Rod’s study of Yoga began at the age 19. Three years later he began an intensive apprenticeship with internationally renowned Yoga master Kavi Yogiraj Mani Finger… In addition to his discipleship with Mani, Rod studied closely under Mani’s son, Yogiraj Alan Finger.” from here: http://www.parayoga.com/learn/rodstrykerbio.html

      • Yes, he often mentions mani, as I said; that is not the issue. The issue is putting all them with sivananda. I’ve studied with the shivanandas and with stryker and believe me, they are worlds apart. I see from the ishta website that Alan credits a certain “Swami Venkatesananda” who was a student of Sivanada, as one of his influnences along the way, but he also credits kriya and tantric teachers. To put these guys under sivanada is a gross simplification, one of many in this chart.

        • Ali

          So true, Bradd! Thank you so much for all the valuable info!

  • Along with Pam, Arturo and Amy, I urge you to include Srivatsa Ramaswami and Mark Whitwell in your chart. They teach the yoga they received in decades of one-on-one study in Krishnamacharya’s home. They are world renowned teachers who are as close to the source as it is possible to get; the knowledge and clarity they have is deep and rare and forms an invaluable part of our contemporary body of wisdom.

  • Toddy

    What an amazing work in progress. Maybe there could be a permanent link to it on the home page and it could be updated as the chart develops through input. It would be fascinating to see what Mimi’s students come up with too. I initially was suprised to see Srivatsa Ramaswami not branching off from Krishnamachrya but then I realised what an enormous effort the undertaking must have been and what an amazing job you’ve done with the first public version of it. I’m going to print and laminate one (with some reifinements of course) to carry around with me for “What is yoga” explanations. Well done Ali! You’ve really struck a chord.

  • Toddy

    Hey guys

    I’ve just worked out Ali has a link to a more up to date version on her website here: http://alisonhinksyoga.wordpress.com/infographics/an-overly-brief-and-incomplete-history-of-yoga/

  • admin

    updated on YD here πŸ™‚

  • Ali

    Thank you all for your suggestions! I am attempting to make it more complete and less brief! <3

  • Beth

    This is a cool chart, but it’s disappointing that some basic things are incorrect (like the spelling of Erich Schiffmann’s name).

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