1. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888-1980)
Sri TirumalaiKrishnamacharya is widely regarded as ‘The Father of Modern Yoga’. He was an Indian Ayurvedic healer, scholar, and yoga teacher, who revived Hatha Yoga combining breath and movement into Vinyasa. His teaching style is known as Viniyoga, based on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra and Yoga Yajnavalkya. He believed that yoga exists as a spiritual and physical healing practice and every individual walks on different paths of yoga. And many of his disciples went to become influential names in the world of yoga that includes B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V Desikachar, K.PattabisJois, Indra Devi, and more.
2. Swami Sivananda Saraswati(1887-1963)
Famous name in the world of Yoga, Swami Sivananda Saraswati was born in the South Indian State of Tamil Nadu. A physician-turned-spiritual leader, at the age of 40 left his services and flew down to Rishikesh to serve people by spreading Yoga. He attained self-realization in Rishikesh, practiced yoga and meditation rigorously, and established Divine Life Society, which is popular as Sivananda Ashram. He always emphasized the need to let go of the ego, which blocks the path towards self-realization.
3. Krishna Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009)
Another recognized name in the world of yoga, Sri K, Pattabhi Jois is the one who helped to develop Ashtanga Yoga (Mysore Yoga). He was an Indian professor and yoga teacher and has always shown an early interest in Sanskrit, Hindu rituals, yoga, and eventually left home to study them extensively.
Jois studied under Krishnamacharya and also assisted him. He served as an honorary professor of yoga at the Government College. He was an influential yogi, and later his wife and three children also went on to teach yoga around the world.
4. B.K.S Iyengar (1918-2014)
BellurKrishnamacharSundararajaIyengar or B.K.S. Iyengar was a well-known name in Yoga and was the founder of Iyengar Yoga. He played a significant role in spreading and popularizing Hatha Yoga in the West, and due to his immense contribution, he is considered as one of the most reputable yoga teachers worldwide.
He was inspired by his brother-in-law Sri TirumalaiKrishnamacharya, and began his journey of yoga for his health and later became a yoga teacher. He established the Institute and Trust for Yoga, and his children carried forward his yogic legacy.
5. Shwaasa Guru, Vachananand (1983-present)
Swami VachananandJi, commonly known as Shwaasa Guru, is a yogi, social activist, philanthropist, and a sanyasi from Karnataka, India. Owing to the ancestral oath of his father’s family, it required the offering of a one-male child every generation into the fold of Sanyasa. When he was in his mother’s womb, his mother took a pledge called Garbhadeeksha.
At the age of 8 years left his house, attaining knowledge of life, spirituality, and yoga. In 2012, he founded Shwaasa Ashram, intending to spread the treasures of wellness across the globe.
6. Swami Kuvalayananda (1883-1966)
Swami Kuvalayananda majorly is known for his research scientific foundation of yoga and had an immense influence on modern yoga. He was strongly influenced by Sri Aurobindo during his student days. His influence has been profound on the development of yoga as an exercise, which led him to the idea of discovering the scientific basis behind these yogic processes. This became his life’s work and further led to establishing his research center and also started Yoga Mimamsa, the first journal completely devoted to studying yoga and scientific investigation into yoga.
7. Mataji Nirmala Devi (1923-2011)
Born as Nirmala Salve Srivastava, Mataji Nirmala Devi spent her life working for peace by developing and promoting a simple technique through which people can achieve self-realization. She wanted to mend the damage being done to people and society by false gurus. She practiced meditation and witnessed the raising of her Kundalini, and shared her experience of self-awareness to motivate the masses. She later moved to the West to make people aware of false Gurus and worked with London hippies who became the first Western Sahaja Yogis.
Sahaja Yoga- a religious movement by Mataji Nirmala Devi, developed to experience the state of self-realization and Kundalini awakening through meditation.
8. Swami Baba Ramdev (1965- present)
Born as Ramkishen Yadav, Baba Ramdev is the new face of Yoga who influenced Yoga’s rise in India and West in the last two decades. He highlighted the benefits of this ancient practice immensely, starting with his Divya Yoga Mandir Trust in 1995, and slowly began to teach yoga through television featuring. He has gained a lot of followers across the globe, including celebrities.
In the 90’s he settled in Haridwar in Kankhal and founded Patanjali Yogpeeth- an institute to practice and promote Yoga and Ayurveda. Other locations include the UK, US, Nepal, Canada, and Mauritius. He then founded Patanjali Ayurveda – a consumer packaged goods company. The venture made him a yogi entrepreneur. He also founded a political party called Bharat Swabhiman.
9. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918-2008)
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was an India Guru and Yogi who developed Transcendental Meditation in the 60s and was a well-known Guru to a number of Western Celebrities including The Beatles. A disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, he was infamous for his prolific writing and has penned more than 20 books and several magazine articles. He is one of the most famous names associated with Yoga and Meditation, making him a symbol of Eastern Spiritual Practices across the globe. He also encouraged scientific studies into the benefits of yoga, meditation, and yogic chants.
10. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (1957- present)
An Indian yogi, mystic, and author, Jaggi Vasudev is more commonly known as Sadhguru- founder of Isha Foundation. He is a well-versed name worldwide who spent his life delivering the knowledge yoga and spirituality. His foundation works to help people with their diverse range of programs.
He was interested in yoga from the early age of 12 and met Malladhihalli Sri Raghavendra Swamiji, who taught Sadhguru series of asanas and other forms of yogic learning. He is not only a yogi, but also an environmentalist, and works for Rural Rejuvenation, Isha Vidhya, Green Hands, Rally for rivers, and more. Sadhguru is a teacher, and in the culture of yoga, the term has a much more profound meaning.