Interestingly, the roots of the concept of an international day of yoga were first laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a speech at the UNGA in September 2014. Following this initial proposal, the UNGA held an informal consultation on the draft resolution which was named 'International Day for Yoga' the very next month. June 21 has been observed as International Yoga Day ever since.
On this occasion, here is a list of the five most popular and powerful yoga masters the world has ever seen:
1. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
Inarguably the all-time master of yoga, there has been no asana that did not come out of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya's (1888-1989) traditions. Although he never crossed India's borders, Krishnamacharya's yoga has its roots across the world now. Every single practice that is employed in today's world clearly is influenced from Krishnamacharya's inventions.
2. Swami Sivananda
Swami Sivananda (1887-1963) is considered to be one of the greatest yoga masters of the 20th century. He is the actual inspiration and brains behind the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. His teachings are summarised in these six words: serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realise. Like Krishnamacharya, Master Sivananda never left Rishikesh in his life except for a couple of India tours, and his books, which were totally handwritten, spread like wildfire across the world.
3. BKS Iyengar
Bellur Krishnamachari Sundararaja Iyengar (1918-2014), one of the most popular yoga teachers in the world, was the real founder of Iyengar yoga. He found the meaning of the yoga sutras by his practical approach and regular practice. Iyengar yoga is said to be a way of life in itself. His designs of props like wooden tools, ropes, belts are supposedly the means to bring perfection to the practitioner in any asana.
4. K Pattabhi Jois
K Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009) is the prominent yoga master who is well known for his Ashtanga yoga. According to his biography, his entire life was an endeavour to imbue his students with commitment, consistency, and integrity. It is by virtue of his undying faith and enthusiasm that the practice he learned from Krishnamacharya has remained alive. In 1948, Master Jois had established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute which is now called the Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute, in Mysore.
5. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918-2008), born Mahesh Prasad Varma, was often referred to as the 'Giggling Guru' for he laughed aplenty in television interviews. He was famous for being the yoga guru to the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and several other celebrities. Master Mahesh Yogi's magnum opus was the 'transcendental meditation technique', a specific form of silent meditation. This mantra is employed twice a day, for 15-20 minutes, chanting silently. It is reportedly one of the most widely used mantras, and with over 340 publications and research papers on it, it is also known to be one of the most researched meditation techniques of all time. Starting from 1965, this technique has found its place in several schools, universities, prisons, and corporations in the United States, Europe, India, and Latin America.
Wishing our readers a very happy International Yoga Day!