Meet the Innovators: Gary Kraftsow

Gary Kraftsow was the first American yoga teacher to be certified by T.K.V. Desikachar and the only American authorized to train teachers in that lineage. Kraftsow is founder of the American Viniyoga Institute in Maui, Hawaii, and one of the leading proponents of Viniyoga yoga therapy in the United States, a method known for adapting practices to suit the individual.

Kraftsow went to India in 1974 at age 19, where he studied for three years with Desikachar and his father, T. Krishnamacharya. His book, Yoga for Wellness, is a course in therapeutic Viniyoga, including asana sequences for common physical and mental complaints.

“Yoga has tended to be reduced to asana practice in this country,” Kraftsow says. “But the yoga therapy tradition incorporates not only asana but Pranayama, chanting, mantra, meditation, prayer, ritual, textual study, and <a href="/health/Ayurvedic insights about diet and lifestyle. My prayer is that we avoid trivialization and dilution of this profound tradition in the well-intentioned effort to be inclusive.”