“The shortest way to reach the goal of ultimate happiness is practicing all limbs of hatha yoga and raja yoga, (yoga darshana). This is the principle.”
A.L.V. Kumar is widely recognized as an inspirational leader and accomplished yoga master. Since the age of 11, Kumar began his studies with India’s most acclaimed teachers attending 37 schools and ashrams. He is a Vedic scholar fluent in Sanskrit, Pali, English, and numerous Hindi dialects. His extensive training and mastery of Hatha and Raja yoga make him aptly qualified to teach all aspects of external and internal yoga. His lectures and courses covering all aspects of traditional yoga offer uplifting perspectives on yama, niyama, all levels of asanas, vargas, pranayamas; including vibhaga mudras, bandas, bastrrikas, kapalabhathi, and kriya practices. He leads intensive training in Raja yoga theory and practice as described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. This includes guidance in the stages of Samadhi and the path of purification leading to profound insight and liberation. He has taught more then 13,000 people in the U.K., U.S., and India. Kumar was recently honored with the Bharat Jyoti Award and the Glory of India Award by India International Friendship Society, Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award, International Achievers Award for his meritorious public service in the field of yoga.
"You only teach what you practice and practice what you teach”
Kumar’s teaching, rather than belonging to any one tradition, adheres to the genesis of yoga and it’s components.
Kumar is only one of three living masters that practice the science of Kaya Chikitsa, an ancient healing system with its roots in original yoga – the source of Ayurveda. His holistic approach to health and wellness include consultancy for treatments for life-threatening injuries and systemic diseases. He offers a series free yoga classes, as a community service to thousands of residents in Hyderabad, India where he also works as a nuclear scientist.
Kumar began studying yoga at the age of 11: “During my school vacation (15 days to 2 months) I made it a point to attend the residential courses. Wherever I went I had only one mission – to discover if there is anything new to learn and then to perfect all the teachings of these schools both in theory and practice.”
Before the age of 25 he had mastered the techniques of the following schools among others: Sivananda, Iyengar, Kaivalyadama-Lonavala, Bihar, all the main traditions of kriya yoga. His theoretical studies of Hatha yoga have explored in depth Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Hatha Ratnavali, Garanda Sanhita, Siva Sanhita, Hathayoga Rahasyam, Kurantaka Yoga, Kapala Kurantaka Yoga, Yoga Rahasya. Kumar avoided being limited to the methodology of only one school. He saw that each school gives importance to only a few limbs of yoga.
“Most of the schools teach their own developed methodology or a methodology learnt from only one teacher from a single school of practice which makes the teaching very limited in its approach and lags behind in covering the broader aspect of entire yoga.”
He believes that it is essential to have knowledge of all the limbs of yoga and to teach them in the right context.
“Yoga is many limbed, and is not to be confused with any form of religion. The true understanding of how Yoga practices are related within a traditional progression is not found in the world today. There is confusion and the practice of individuals suffers as a result. My aim is to restore the understanding of the relationship of different branches of traditional yoga so as to enable each person to make swift and effective progress. Spirituality aims to lead the aspirant beyond suffering. I offer my experience of many years of spiritual investigation and practice.“
Originally Kumar’s practice of yoga was for his own self-development and he had not planned to teach. A turning point came when he met with a road accident in 1992, resulting in multiple fractures in his lower spine, hip bones, pelvic bones and the loss of control over the lower torso. His urethra was ruptured due to being pierced by the pelvic bone and doctors had to do urethro-plasty surgery. He was told he would be unable to walk again or have children. Doctors advised him not to practice yoga. After a year of experiencing no progress he began practising yoga. By the following year was fully mobile. In two years he could run and resumed about 300 asanas. In 1994 he also had his first daughter.
” I applied the energy flow principles of hatha yoga systematically creating an order of postures by which I could speed up my progress and align all those deviated parts. I owe 100% percent of my success to Hatha yoga.”
From then he decided to devote his time outside of work to promote the correct understanding of the traditional methods of yoga. This includes the progressive nature of Hatha yoga through to Raja yoga (meditation), which leads to the de-conditioning of the mind.
Kumar has meditated using techniques based on mantra, tantra, shuddi, penance practices such as standing on a single leg and fasting, rupa, arupa, purnanubhuthi and vipassana. Kumar’s approach to meditation has always been to keep investigating further, to use each level to investigate further to the next level. He was guided by Nachiketa’s words, “nathi, nathi”, not this, not this. He says that he owes his progress to the fact that he never gave importance to experiences or faculties ( siddhis/ vibhuthees) gained, but rather tested his progress by how much it helped him at a behavioural level in his daily life. He looked for a status of mind which had the same equanimity within and outside of samadhi.
“Why did Patanjali start his text with Samadhi first and end with Kaivalya (enlightenment)? I knew very well that Samadhi is not enlightenment. I appreciated this great scientist because he was so clear about raja yoga…..My own life, behaviour, body and mind, have been the test of my progress. I have never been prepared to believe in the ultimate existence without investigating further.”
Kumar’s extensive scriptural knowledge includes the texts of the Vedas, Brahma Sutras, Yoga Vasista Sara, Viveka Chudamani, Tripura Yoga Rahasya, the Puranas, the Gita and scriptures from the six basic schools of Indian philosophy. Kumar has been particularly interested in the relationship between the teachings of Patanjali and Buddha and presented a paper on the subject of Yoga and Dhamma at a world psychiatry meeting in Seoul in 2005:
“The paper aims at a unified evolving approach and considers the highest aspects of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, the Yoga and the Dhamma respectively. The non dogmatic aspects of both traditions are the same and are called Nivritthi Dharma, the science of deconditioning the mind or the science of eternity (Sanathana dharma). Both the path of Yoga and the path of Dhamma aim at deconditioning the mind.”
Kumar is also a practitioner and teacher trainer of Kayachikitsa, a system of yoga that was practiced in the tradition of Narayana Swamy the author of Hatha Yoga Ratnavali. This tradition was passed through his family lineage to Narayana Munindra with whom Kumar studied. Kumar is one of only three people in the world to have been trained in this knowledge and who practise this particular system. Kayachikitsa is an ancient science focused on the treatment of physical and mental illness. With his advanced knowledge of the Kayachikitsa technique, his thorough understanding of medical and spiritual conditions, and his reassuring compassion, Kumar has brought effective relief to many people. The long term benefits are the regeneration of the whole body system, and the means to achieve and maintain a status of complete health.
Although Kumar is a unique spiritual teacher, he has no desire to be seen as another guru. He works full time as a scientist in Hyderabad. He is married with two children.
Kumar’s background in science enables him to explain the physical and mental benefits of the most ancient Indian systems in modern scientific terms. The clarity brought to complex concepts is invaluable to those interested in beginning and advanced hatha and raja yoga. Kumar’s courses are intensely practical, offering yoga and meditation practices which can be learned and taken home to be integrated into busy lives.
“Yoga is a practical methodology to achieve the results at mind and matter level. Yoga is totally secular in nature. Whether it is hatha yoga or raja yoga both offer the solution to the problems of body and mind.”