Pattabhi Jois – Ashtanga Yoga Guru & Sexual Abuser

Pattabhi Jois
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Sri K Pattabhi Jois was an Indian yoga teacher who is credited with creating Ashtanga Yoga. He was born in 1915 and began studying yoga at a young age. In 1948, he opened his first yoga school in Mysore, India. Sri K Pattabhi Jois taught until his death in 2009. His teachings have been influential on many modern day yoga teachers and practitioners.

Unfortunately, as is too often in the yoga world, this guru has also fallen from grace. As you will read later, Pattabhi Jois was accused of sexually assaulting several of his students over the years.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Who was Sri K Pattabhi Jois and what did he teach?

Sri K Pattabhi Jois was a world-renowned yoga teacher who developed the style of yoga known as Ashtanga Yoga. Born in Karnataka, India in 1915, Jois began studying yoga at the age of 12 under the guidance of his uncle, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. He later studied at the Sanskrit College in Mysore, where he received his teacher training certification.

He later went on to teach at Krishnamacharya’s Yoga Ashram in Mysore, where he developed the Ashtanga Yoga system. In 1937, he founded his yoga school, the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, where Jois ran classes and continued to teach until his death in 2009.

Sri K Pattabhi Jois most famous quotes

  • “Do your practice and all is coming.”
  • “Body is not stiff, mind is stiff.”
  • “Anyone can practice. Young man can practice. Old man can practice. Very old man can practice. Man who is sick, he can practice. Man who doesn’t have strength can practice. Except lazy people; lazy people can’t practice Ashtanga yoga.”

Pattabhi Jois, Krishnamacharya, and Rama Mohan Brahmachari

Sri K Pattabhi Jois, Krishnamacharya, and Rama Mohan Brahmachari are three of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century. Each of them played a vital role in shaping the modern practice of yoga, and their teachings continue to influence yogis around the world.

Sri K Pattabhi Jois is credited with popularizing Ashtanga Yoga, a physically demanding style of yoga that emphasizes strength and stamina.

Krishnamacharya is considered the father of vinyasa yoga, a flowing style of yoga that links breath with movement.

Krishnamacharya was born in 1888 in a small village in South India and was exposed to yoga at a young age. He went on to study under some of the most renowned yoga masters of his time and eventually developed his own style of yoga, which he taught to students all over the world.

Krishnamacharya is credited with reviving interest in yoga and making it more accessible to people from all walks of life. His legacy continues to inspire yogis of all levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners. Thanks to his visionary work, yoga is now practiced by millions of people around the globe.

And Rama Mohan Brahmachari was one of the first teachers to bring yoga to the West. Together, these three teachers have helped make yoga what it is today.

For more information, check out the trailer from the very informative documentary ‘Breath of the Gods’:

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

The Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute (KPJAYI)

The Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore was founded by Sri K Pattabhi Jois in 1948 with the aim of preserving and promoting the proper practice of Ashtanga yoga around the world. Today, the Institute continues to be a leading voice in the Ashtanga yoga community, where those in the ashtanga community who want to study yoga travel from all over the world.

After his death in 2009, Pattabhi Jois’s grandson Sharath Jois becaome the lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga, and renamed/rebranded the KPJAYI to the ‘Sharath Yoga Center‘ in Mysore, India.

The is me with Sharath Jois (grandson of Pattabhi Jois), in the KPJAYI

Photo of me with Sharath Jois in 2019 upon receiving my authorization Level 1 to teach Ashtanga yoga in the original KPJAYI in Mysore, India.

Sri K Pattabhi Jois and his wife, Savitramma, had three children: Saraswathi, Manju, and Ramesh.

Saraswathi Jois currently runs the rebranded KPJAYI shala in Mysore alongside her daughter, Sharmila. Manju Jois, the oldest son of Pattabhi Jois, teacher Ashtanga yoga workshops all over the world.

The Yoga Mala book

The Yoga Mala book is a classic text on yoga, written by Sri K Pattabhi Jois. The book is a comprehensive guide to the practice of yoga, covering all aspects of the discipline. The book is divided into four parts: the first part covers the history and philosophy of yoga; the second part covers the asanas (postures); the third part covers the mental and emotional benefits of yoga; and the fourth part covers the spiritual benefits of yoga.

The Yoga Mala is considered to be an essential text for anyone interested in learning about yoga, and its many benefits.

How has Ashtanga Yoga influenced modern yoga practices around the world?

One of the key features of Ashtanga Yoga is that it is a very physical practice, involving the linking of strong postures, flowing movements with breath control. This style of yoga has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many people around the world drawn to its challenging and invigorating nature.

In turn, Ashtanga Yoga has had a significant influence on modern yoga practices (such as power yoga), both in terms of its popularity and its approach to the physical aspects of the practice. Many of today’s most popular yoga styles have been influenced by Ashtanga Yoga, and the popularity of this style of yoga is likely to continue to grow in the years to come.

Below is a 1993 video of Sri K Pattabhi Jois teaching his now very well-known students:

Next is an interview with Sri K Pattabhi Jois as part of the very enlightening documentary Enlighten Up:

And finally, here is a yoga demonstration with Krishna Pattabhi Jois grandson Sharath, filmed in 1997:

Sri K Pattabhi Jois & The Sexual Assault Allegations

Unfortunately, Sri K Pattabhi Jois’s legacy has been tarnished by sexual abuse allegations made by several women.

For more than thirty years, students of Pattabhi Jois whispered about the nature of his inappropriate hands-on yoga adjustments, while rumors of sexual abuse continued long after his death in 2009. 

And then came 2018, the year when it all came to the surface. That is when women started coming forward with stories of sexual misconduct.

In 2018 an article titled “Yoga Guru Pattabhi Jois Sexually Assaulted Me for Years” came out. It was written by Karen Rain, a student and victim of Pattabhi Jois who told her story and even showed photographs of Jois’ inappropriate adjustments (such as him pressing his crotch to hers in one of the postures).

Sharath Jois was initially criticized for not showing any acknowledgment of these accusations.

And then in 2019, as reported by The New Yorker, Sharath Jois wrote this: “It brings me immense pain that I also witness him giving improper adjustments. I am sorry it caused pain for any of his students. After all these years I still feel pain from my grandfather’s actions.”

The #MeToo movement has brought new attention to sexual abuse allegations, and many accusers have come forward in recent years with stories of harassment and assault.

The yoga community has been particularly affected by these revelations, as many well-known teachers have been accused of misconduct. As a result, many studios and organizations have been forced to reevaluate their policies and procedures around sexual harassment and assault.

For more information, check out the 2019 article by The New Yorker titled: “Yoga Reconsiders the Role of the Guru in the Age of #MeToo


While the allegations against Pattabhi Jois are serious, it’s important to remember that one person’s story does not represent an entire community. Ashtanga Yoga has brought many people incredible healing and transformation in yoga studios all around the world, and we should not let these allegations overshadow that. At the same time, it is vital that we listen to the stories of those who have been harmed and do our best to create a safe space for them to heal.

Related questions

When was Ashtanga Yoga founded?

Ashtanga Yoga is a system of yoga that was codified and popularized by Sri Krishnamacharya in the early 20th century. However, the roots of Ashtanga Yoga go back much further, to the ancient texts of the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.

In these texts, the sage Patanjali outlines eight “limbs” of yoga, which include practices such as meditation, breathing exercises, and physical postures. The word “Ashtanga” comes from the Sanskrit words “ashta,” meaning eight, and “anga,” meaning limb.

Thus, Ashtanga Yoga is sometimes referred to as the “eight-limbed yoga.”

Where did Ashtanga Yoga originate?

The origins of Ashtanga Yoga can be traced back to an ancient text known as the Yoga Sutras. This text, which was written by the sage Patanjali, outlined eight different limbs of yoga, including asanas (yoga postures), pranayama (breath control), and meditation.

While many of these limbs are still practiced today, it is the asanas that form the core of Ashtanga Yoga.

According to legend, Patanjali was said to have received the asanas from Lord Shiva, who then passed them on to his disciple, Goraksha. From there, the asanas were transmitted from teacher to student, eventually making their way to Mysore, India in the early 20th century.

There, they were popularized by Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who is considered to be the father of modern yoga. Today, Ashtanga Yoga is practiced all over the world by people of all ages and levels of experience.

What is Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali?

Ashtanga yoga, also known as eight-limbed yoga, is a type of yoga that was outlined by the sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. This system of yoga includes the following eight limbs: yama (abstinences), niyama (observances), asana (posture), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (absorption).

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