“Only through the practice of yoga is yoga known” –Vishnu Purana
When yoga was taught in India in ancient times, all lessons were taught one-on-one. The teacher tailored the instructions to meet the needs of the participant, according to the art and philosophy of yoga. Today, not everyone can avail themselves of private yoga lessons, but we have been taught how to respect this ancient model of learning even while teaching group classes. To that effect, we keep our classes small so that postures can be adapted to the needs of the participants. Yoga postures are always taught in coordination with proper breathing. Practiced this way, the practice becomes a form of meditation that calms restless thoughts, supports energy, and strengthens the immune and nervous systems. Our ultimate goal is to lead students towards an independent practice that will bring the benefits of yoga into their daily lives.
The founder of Upstate Yoga Institute, Mary Louise Skelton, began her study of yoga in 1969 with world famous yoga master Sri T. Krishnamacharya (1888-1989). Sri T. Krishnamacarya had mastery not only in yoga but also in various aspects of Indian philosophy, Ayurveda, and music. He was very influential in bringing yoga’s remarkable healing potential into the 20th century and has left his mark on many forms of yoga taught in the West today.
In 1974, Mary Louise became a student of Krishnamacharya’s son, T.K.V. Desikachar (1938-2016). Two years later, she invited T.K.V. Desikachar to teach a month long course on yoga at Colgate University. Out of that course came the book “Religiousness in Yoga: theory and practice”. If Krishnamacarya was among those great masters who pioneered a renaissance in the practice of yoga, his son TKV Desikachar was truly a path-breaker in making the ideals of yoga comprehensible to Westerners. His well-known book “The Heart of Yoga” was put together as a rewrite of the original book “Religiousness in Yoga”.
Urged by TKV Desikachar to transmit the knowledge and methodology of the lineage, which at the time was known as “Viniyoga”, Mary Louise founded Upstate Yoga Intitute in 1983. At that time, yoga was not always well received. She worked tirelessly to make the teachings of classical yoga available to Central New Yorkers and beyond. She passed away in 1995, leaving behind a large following of dedicated students who continue the work of sharing the precious teachings she received directly from Krishnamacarya and Desikachar.