From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Viniyoga is the individualised style of yoga as exercise, also called Vinyasa Krama Yoga, developed by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and taught by his son T. K. V. Desikachar.


Viniyoga in Sanskrit originally meant "employment", "use", or "application".[1] The root yuj means "to join", among other senses, with two prefixes vi and ni it means the opposite — separation.[2] In the book "The Viniyoga of Yoga" Desikachar wrote that the term Viniyoga was not initially intended to mean "a style of yoga, but an approach to utilizing its tools".[3] Desikachar explained that 'Viniyoga' had wider usage.[3] As a technical term in Hindu religious literature it means a short introductory section that gives standard details about the work, such as the sage (ṛṣi) said to have originated the work, the meter in which it is to be chanted, the deity (devatā) considered to preside over it, and other technical details of its use.[4]

The word also appears in the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali, where sūtra 3.6 says that the application of the practice of saṁyama takes place in stages.[5]

Style of hatha yoga[edit]

Indian yoga teacher Tirumalai Krishnamacharya developed this individualized yoga style, which came to be described by others as Viniyoga, although he himself did not identify his approach by this name.[6][7]

The term viniyoga came to be used by Western students of T.K.V. Desikachar (son of Krishnamacharya) to collectively describe his approach to utilizing the tools of yoga, in particular his conviction that yoga practice should be adapted to fit the individuality and particular situation of each practitioner.[8]

Viniyoga was just as effective as conventional stretching exercise, and more effective than a self-care book for improving function and pain in patients with chronic low back pain.[9] A 2011 study published online by the Archives of Internal Medicine found that viniyoga was more effective in reducing back pain than using a self-care book. However, viniyoga was no more effective in reducing back pain than stretching classes.[10]

T. K. V. Desikachar described viniyoga in May 1983 as the "systematic application of Yoga":

“Yoga is a mystery. It does not mean the same thing to each and everyone. In spite of the vast field it covers curing chronic ailments, extra-sensory perception, etc, hardly anyone is able to define it in simple terms. Where is then the hope of experiencing its true significance?

What about the risks of inappropriate use of Yoga methods and practices?

Why are so many people all over the world taking the word and the substance of Yoga so lightly, so ridiculously? Like everything, Yoga must be presented intelligently. It should be spoken of carefully and offered according to the aspiration, requirement and the culture of the individual.This should be done in stages.Systematic application of Yoga – be it concerned with physical exercises, deep breathing, relaxation, meditation, lifestyle, food, studies – is the need of the day.

This I believe – is what the word viniyoga represents.” [11]

However, from 2002 Desikachar began to disassociate himself from being linked to the singular word viniyoga and its use to commonly identify his teacher's teaching. This was because of the shift in popular perception from his description of the viniyoga of Yoga as referring to the appropriate application of Yoga, now not just shortened to viniyoga as a generic collective, but also to Viniyoga as a marketable branding handle. His original intention was that it would collectively describe an intelligent and systematic approach to teaching Yoga, collating the teachings of T Krishnamacharya, within individual situations for a Yoga teacher trained by TKV Desikachar, or one of his students.[12]

Following on from this on April 24, 2003 there was a general email sent to his senior students around the world which asked them to choose either not to use the singular word ‘Viniyoga’ to represent Desikachar's and Krishnamacharya's approach to teaching Yoga or to remove their names from their communications.[12]

Dear Friends,

When I introduced the concept of viniyoga in the late 70's and early 80's, I never imagined that it will replace the word “Yoga”.

I am extremely disappointed with the situation today, where this has become the case and caused so much distortion and confusion. Hence I request you to either delete the word Viniyoga to represent my teacher's teaching, or remove my father's and my name from your communications. This is the least you can do for me, as a guru dakshina.

Please feel free to forward this to other students whose email addresses I don't have.

With Best Wishes

TKV Desikachar[12]


In 2015, the Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation registered Viniyoga as a trademark in India under class 44 (medical services). In 2017, it registered Viniyoga as a trademark in the European Union.[13]

The American Viniyoga Institute was founded and is directed by Gary Kraftsow, who studied yoga under Desikachar in 1974.[14]


  1. ^ See Apte 1965, p. 860 for definitions of विनियोग (viniyoga) as: 1. Separation, parting, detachment; 2. Leaving, giving up, abandoning; 3. Employment, use, application, disposal.
  2. ^ For a definition of the root yuj, see Apte 1965, p. 860.
  3. ^ a b Page 8 of"The Viniyoga of yoga", ISBN 81-87847-11-5.
  4. ^ For use as a technical term in stotra literature, see Joshi 1998, p. 2.
  5. ^ For text of sutra 3.6 as "tasya bhūmiṣu viniyogaḥ", translation of this sutra as "Its (of Saṁyama) use by stages", and definition of viniyoga as "application, employment", see Taimni 1961, p. 287.
  6. ^ Ruiz, Fernando Pagés. "Krishnamacharya's Legacy." and Yoga Journal, May/June 2001.
  7. ^ Mohan, A. G. (2010). Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings. Boston: Shambhala. ISBN 978-1-59030-800-4.
  8. ^ For a discussion of the meaning of viniyoga in this context, see Desikachar 2001, p. 8.
  9. ^ Sherman, KJ; Cherkin, DC; Erro, J; Miglioretti, DL; Deyo, RA (2005), "Comparing yoga, exercise, and a self-care book for chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial", Annals of Internal Medicine, 143 (12): 849–56, doi:10.7326/0003-4819-143-12-200512200-00003, PMID 16365466.
  10. ^ "Yoga no better than stretching for bad backs". London: The Telegraph. 25 October 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  11. ^ "The Viniyoga of Yoga". London: 11 August 1983. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  12. ^ a b c "What is the meaning and origin of the concept of the viniyoga of Yoga?". Centre for Yoga Studies. 2014-04-17. Retrieved 2018-05-15. CC-Zero-badge.svg Material was copied from this source, which is available under a CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication.
  13. ^ "Viniyoga". 2017. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  14. ^ "About Gary Kraftsow | Founder and Director of the American Viniyoga Institute". American Viniyoga Institute. Retrieved 2 May 2019.


  • Apte, Vaman Shivram (1965), The Practical Sanskrit Dictionary (Fourth revised and enlarged ed.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, ISBN 81-208-0567-4
  • Desikachar, T.K.V. with Kausthub Desikachar and Frans Moors (1994). The Viniyoga of Yoga: Applying Yoga for Healthy Living (Second Reprint, 2001 ed.). Chennai, India: Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. ISBN 81-87847-11-5.
  • Joshi, L. M. (1998), Lalitā Sahasranāma, New Delhi: D. K. Printworld, ISBN 81-246-0073-2
  • Taimni, I. K. (1961), The Science of Yoga (Eighth Reprint, 1993 ed.), Adyar, India: The Theosophical Publishing House, ISBN 81-7059-212-7