25 March 2012

Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram

Chennai, located on the east coast of India 🇮🇳, is the home of the yoga center Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram 🧘. KYM was founded in 1976 by TKV Desikachar as a tribute to his father and teacher, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Rightfully known as the "Father of Modern Yoga", Tirumalai Krishnamacharya was also a teacher of such famous personalities as Indra Devi, BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois – each of whom had made a unique, invaluable contribution to yoga 🕉.

Mandiram's main activities are teaching – asanas, pranayamas, meditations, Vedic chanting – and therapy. Classical yogic texts, primarily the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, are also studied in the process.

A lot of attention in Yoga Mandiram is given to therapy. So, it's possible to start an acquaintance with the yogic tradition by visiting a therapeutic consultation. I haven't tested this approach, so I pass on reports from fellow students. A consultation costs $30 and lasts for one hour. During a consultation, the specific needs of your body are diagnosed, and then a set of asanas is designated. During the next hour (which costs $30 more), the selected asanas are practiced under the supervision of the yoga therapist. The following session can be held in 1-2 weeks for correcting and evolving the complex that you have (hopefully) continued practicing on your own. I'm not aware of a number of such possible sessions, but assume they could be done ad infinitum.

A Program

I took a class called Yogic Anatomy. It concentrated on an in-depth understanding of yoga practices from the perspective of the body structure, including not only the physical component, as described in the classical Vedic texts. The course offered body practices and theoretical classes (as well as breakfasts and masala chai breaks), successfully balancing them. All the instructors – true professionals in their field – were very open for interaction, which was very much appreciated.


The practiced complex was built of vinyasas: dynamic transitions in and between asanas. At first, this practice looked overly simplistic to me — with its repetitive body movements (I was more used to statically hold asanas) and breath counts. For example, on inhale (let's say 4 counts), we entered an asana; on exhale (6 counts) we got back to the initial position. And were repeating a movement 4-8 times in a row.

After two days of practice, the dissatisfaction faded away. Firstly, the practice was becoming more sophisticated. Secondly, I realized that no one was emphasizing the count (yeah, I tend to take it too literally), but rather using it as an indication of the ratio of breaths to produce particular effects. Also, the slow, gradual "getting into" the practice was justified: to be on the safer side with the less prepared participants.

In addition to enrollment in a scheduled course, arrangements for independent personal or group training were also possible. For example, two groups from the USA and Japan were studying in parallel with our mixed group (we also had people from the USA and Japan, BTW, along with from Germany, France, Indonesia, Lithuania, Canada, and Great Britain. Which was cool.)

On finishing a course, a certificate was given to every participant.



I had found only two cheaper-style ($15-$25) accommodations close to the Madniram. Other places were not reachable on foot (I consider a 10-15 minutes of walk to be still convenient). So many students got to the Mandiram by rickshaw and felt comfortable about it. On additional request during the booking of the course, the KYM sent a list of possible accommodations.


In the area, it wasn't difficult to find food of fine quality (cooked or fresh fruits). Water was sold at the usual affordable Indian prices. There were a couple of excellent restaurants near the Mandiram as well.

No classes were held on Saturdays and Sundays, so the weekends could be spent walking, traveling, and experiencing massage sessions.


Fun fact: the first sidewalks we'd met in months of travelling in – often rural – India appeared to enclose Theosophical Society Garden.



Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram provides a cozy, friendly atmosphere with the opportunity to deepen (or gain) practical and theoretical knowledge of yoga or to improve one's state of health. See KYM website for a list of available programs and contact information.

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