“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.”
Dr. A.L.V. Kumar is widely recognized as an inspirational leader and accomplished yoga master. At the age of 11, Kumar began his studies with India’s most acclaimed teachers, attending 37 schools and ashrams. His teaching is informed by his extensive training and mastery of Hatha and Raja Yoga.
Kumar’s lectures and courses cover all aspects of traditional yoga, and offer uplifting perspectives on yama, niyama, and all levels of asanas, vargas, and 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, including guidance in the stages of Samadhi and the path of purification, leading to profound insight and liberation. Kumar has taught more than 18,000 people in the U.K., U.S., and India.
“You only teach what you practice and practice what you teach.”
Rather than belonging to any one tradition, Kumar’s teaching adheres to the genesis of yoga and its many components.
The Genesis of Kumar’s Approach
Kumar began studying yoga at the age of 11 by attending residential yoga courses during his school vacations. He sought experiences in many different schools, aiming to learn everything possible and perfect all teachings in both theory and practice.
Before the age of 25, he mastered the techniques of the following schools, among others: Sivananda, Iyengar, Kaivalyadama-Lonavala, Bihar, and all the main traditions of Kriya Yoga. His in-depth theoretical studies of Hatha Yoga have explored Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Hatha Ratnavali, Garanda Sanhita, Siva Sanhita, Hathayoga Rahasyam, Kurantaka Yoga, Kapala Kurantaka Yoga, and Yoga Rahasya.
Kumar’s first teacher, Satyananda Saraswati, cautioned him to avoid being limited to the methodology of only one school, realizing that each school gives importance to only a few limbs of yoga. This is something Kumar has followed though out his life, allowing him to keep an open mind, and continuously learn and expand his knowledge, embracing all traditions. “Most schools teach their own developed methodology or a methodology learned from only one teacher from a single school of practice. This makes the teaching very limited in its approach, and lags behind in covering the broader aspect of yoga as a whole,” he says.
In Kumar’s eyes, it is essential to have knowledge of all the limbs of yoga and to teach them in the right context. He believes the true understanding of how yoga practices are related within a traditional progression is not found in the world today. Confusion results and the practice of individuals suffers. Kumar’s aim is to restore the understanding of the relationship between different branches of traditional yoga so as to enable each person to make swift and effective progress and lead the aspirant beyond suffering.
Kumar’s extensive scriptural knowledge includes the texts of Vedanta, Yoga Vasista Sara, Viveka Chudamani, Tripura Yoga Rahasya, the Puranas, the Gita, and scriptures from the six basic schools of Indian philosophy .
He also is a practitioner and teacher of Kayachikitsa, a system of yoga that was practiced in the tradition of Narayana Swamy by the author of HathaYoga 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 to currently practice this particular system. Kayachikitsa is an ancient science focused on the treatment of physical and mental illness, and with his advanced knowledge this technique, his understanding of medical conditions, and his reassuring compassion, Kumar continues to bring 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.
Kumar began practicing yoga for his own self-development and didn’t plan to teach. However, during a road accident in 1992, he suffered multiple fractures in his lower spine, hipbones, and pelvic bones, and also lost control over his lower torso. Additionally, his urethra was ruptured due to being pierced by the pelvic bone, and doctors had to complete urethro-plasty surgery.
This event represented a turning point for Kumar. He was told he would be unable to walk again or have children, and doctors advised him not to practice yoga. After a year of experiencing no progress, he began practicing yoga once again. By the following year, he was fully mobile, and in two years, he could run. He resumed about 300 asanas, and had his first daughter in 1994.
“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,” he says.
From that point forward, he decided to devote his time outside of work to promote correct understanding of the traditional methods of yoga. This includes the progressive nature of Hatha Yoga to Raja Yoga (meditation), ultimately leading to complete liberation of the mind .
Kumar leads residential meditation courses for serious aspirants on the path of yoga twice a year. He trains yoga and meditation teachers and runs yoga and health workshops for the public in the UK, US and India. Kumar is one of only three living masters who practice the science of Kaya Chikitsa, an ancient healing system with its roots in original yoga — the source of Ayurveda. He offers a series of free yoga classes as a community service to thousands of residents in Hyderabad, India, where he also works as a nuclear scientist. Kumar’s holistic approach to health and wellness includes consultancy for treatments of life-threatening injuries and systemic diseases.
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, and is married with two children. His 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 both beginning and advanced Hatha and Raja Yoga.Kumar’s courses are intensely practical, offering yoga and meditation practices which can be learned, taken home, and 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 solutio