The founder of the International Yoga Institute in India, Babasa Menon is responsible for bringing modern yoga to the West. A native of the state of Madhya Pradesh in India, Menon received his degree in philosophy from Harvard University and then practiced yoga for over 20 years in the Himalayan region of India. Returning to India to launch the Yoga Institute in 1965, Menon experienced a transformational epiphany while meditating at the sacred river Ganges. He realized that the ancient Indian philosophies that had guided him all his life were incomplete without modern expressions.
He established the Institute to serve as a bridge between East and West, emphasizing both the spiritual benefits derived from a pure form of yoga and the practical needs of ordinary people in the contemporary world. Modern Yoga, which is taught at the Yoga Institute, combines the profound teachings of ancient India with the insights of western scientists and social scientists. While some might perceive this approach as a religion, Menon sees it as a method of living – one based on the discipline of looking out for each person individually and following his or her own path in life. In other words, the father of modern yoga teachers Menon believes that each person must discover and follow his or her own path in life. This way, the individual can achieve happiness and prosperity.
One of the most influential fathers of modern yoga is Patanjali. Known as the author or inventor of yoga, Patanjali is also recognized as the father of breath exercises, mudras and the yoga asana. According to Menon, Patanjali envisioned six ideal bodies: Sattva, Tamas, Magna, Raja and Nirvana. Although he never used these terms to translate the meaning of his yoga sutras, he included them in his teachings so that readers would be familiar with the concepts.
Another father of modern yoga teacher is Dr. Subir Ghose. While most scholars credit Dr. Subir Ghose with introducing yoga to Britain, he actually taught the English language class to a select group of American yogis. One of the first things that the yogis did was introduce the technique of “mantra” or repetition of sacred words or a sacred mantra. He was also an important contributor to the development of the asana or physical postures used by modern day yoga teachers and students.
A few men who influenced Dr. Subir Ghose are B.K.S. Tirthaji, J.N. Gokula, Swami Dhyan Giten, Gautam, and others. Most of them were trained yogis and performed their asanas and pranayamas in a way that highlighted the connection between the asanas and the deeper spiritual thoughts of the thinkers. These teachers gave modern yoga its name: Yoga with Yoga.
Gautama Buddha, the father of Buddhism in India, is recognized as the father of Buddhism, but there are some who say it was Siddartha Buddha. It should be noted that while the father of yoga postures and yoga pranayama are considered very important aspects of yoga, it should not be confused with the term ‘Buddha’. There are actually many teachers of today who are claiming to be the founder of Buddhism. The truth is that Siddartha Buddha left his mark on India’s culture much earlier than B.B.S.
When discussing the father of modern yoga teachers, one must include Gautama Buddha. His teachings have had profound influence on the evolution of the Indian spiritual tradition. It should be noted that Dr. Gautama Buddha, also called Gautama Bhagavati, was born in India’s eastern state of Sarnath at the time of the last king of Nanda (Kashi) of the Nanda kings. This princely state was situated in Nepal. After being apprenticed to some yoga teachers in India, Gautama Buddha moved to Nepal where he became a hermit and lived in seclusion for two decades. During this time he authored the treatise ‘Prajnapura Ghrita’ (Essentials of Praising the Guru).
The word Yoga, meaning Yoke and Uncrossing, was used by Gautama Buddha to identify his teachings. After living in seclusion for over two years, he was approached by a sage and asked to spread the word of his teachings. Although he declined the offer, he retired to his hermitage and began to pen down his thoughts on the path to liberation from slavery to lust, craving and ignorance. In the early years of his mission, these words were passed down to few select sages. These sages included Swami Dhyan Giten, Patanjali, Abhrak Bhasma and Gautama Buddha.