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Viniyoga is a Sanskrit word that has multiple meanings. Literal meanings include "separation", "detachment", and "leaving", but the common meanings include "employment", "use", and "application".[1] The root yuj means "to join", among other senses, with two prefixes vi and'ni it means the opposite — seperation .[2] In non-Hindu or Western context, viniyoga typically erroneously identifies to the style of hatha yoga as taught by T.K.V. Desikachar. Modern meaning is erroneously, because in the book "The Viniyoga of Yoga" Desikachar wrote "Viniyoga is not a style of yoga, but an approach to utilizing its tools".[3]

When used as a technical term in Hindu religious literature it refers to a short introductory section that gives standard details about the work, such as the sage (ṛṣi) who is 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 appears in the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, where sutra 3.6 says that the application of the practice of saṁyama takes place in stages.[5]

Viniyoga as a style of Hatha Yoga[edit]

Indian yoga teacher Tirumalai Krishnamacharya developed this individualized yoga style, which came to be known as Viniyoga.[6][7] The term viniyoga had been used by T.K.V. Desikachar (son of Krishnamacharya) to identify 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 yoga 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 had described it thus in May 1983 under the title ‘The Viniyoga 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]

The first yoga text to outline a step-by-step sequence for developing a complete practice according to Viniyoga, yoga adapted to the needs of the individual. As said by T.K.V. Desikachar in his book (Book#3) The Heart of Yoga - Developing a Personal Practice.[12]

In 2006, T.K.V. Desikachar and his son Kausthub Desikachar, who faced sexual misconduct allegations,[13] formed Krishnamacharya Healing & Yoga Foundation (KHYF), a partnership firm based in India to teach Viniyoga.

Viniyoga as a Trademark[edit]

In 2015, KHYF registered Viniyoga as a trademark in India under class 44 (medical services). In 2017, KHYF registered Viniyoga as a trademark in European Union under classes 16 (books), 41 (education services), and 44 (medical services).[14]


  1. ^ See Apte 1956, 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 1956, p. 860.
  3. ^ 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. ^ "The Heart of Yoga- 67 Best-Selling Asana Books of All Time". London: 14 February 2018. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  13. ^ "Kausthub Desikachar Faces Abuse Allegations". Yoga Journal. 2012. Retrieved 2018-03-26. 
  14. ^ "Viniyoga". 2017. Retrieved 2018-03-21. 


  • Apte, Vaman Shivram (1965), The Practical Sanskrit Dictionary (Fourth revised and enlarged ed.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, ISBN 81-208-0567-4 
  • Joshi, L. M. (1998), Lalitā Sahasranāma, New Delhi: D. K. Printworld (P) Ltd., 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 
  • 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 


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