Who was the first yoga teacher? Mythology gives us two options. According to the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu text, lord Krishna was the first yoga teacher. According to another classic text, Hatha yoga pradipika, Lord Shiva was the first one to teach yoga.
Krishna is recognized as an avatar (an incarnation or a deliberate descent of a deity to Earth) of Lord Vishnu and as the supreme god. In the Bhagavad Gita he says himself: I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.
Krishna is sometimes seen as a child, playing a flute, sometimes as an old, wise man. In the Bhagavad Gita his role is that of a wise old man, teaching prince Arjuna in ethical matters, the nature of God and the yoga path.
Lord Shiva’s story is a nicer story to tell. One day – being on an island – Shiva decided to tell his wife Parvati (also known as Shakti) about the mysteries of yoga. Mysteries he has discovered himself, after the death of his first love Sati. When she dies Shiva isolates himself into a dark cave buried amongst the snow covered peaks of the Himalayas. He rejects the world outside, full of grieve. As he performs tapas and meditations that produce great heat and energy, his mind is filled with great knowledge and his body becomes resplendent with energy.
While Shiva is educating Shakti (a reincarnation of Sati) a fish near the shore remains motionless and listens with great attention. Shiva discovers the fish though, realises that the fish has learned yoga and blesses the fish ast Matsyendra, Lord of the Fishes. The fish takes a divine form, comes on land and assumes a seated, twisting posture that allows him to fully absorb the rest of the teachings. (This posture is remembered with the yoga asana Matsyendrasana.) After receiving the knowledge of Shiva, Matsyendrasana travels through India (or what is now known as India, Nepal and Pakistan) and teaches yoga to the people.
Teaching Yoga at PaasCro in The Netherlands. But who was the first YogaTeacher? Photo Erik de Roij