Ram Dev (also called Baba RamDev ) is credited with popularizing yoga in India. His yoga institutions have also had an influence in Britain and the U.S. He has been making a name for himself in ayurveda medicine and political statements as well.
In 2003, he started being featured on TV for a morning yoga slot, which quickly grew into a yoga revival movement. It is said that previous to going on TV, he studied scripture and practiced yogic disciplines alone in the Himalayan caves. He left school early to begin study at a yogic monastery.
At this point he seems to be much better known in India (where he apparently now has his own TV channel of all yoga all day) than in America.
His organization, Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust, has a webpage here. The U.S. Trust page is a little easier to navigate and understand. There are workshops given to train people in physical yoga as well as breathing techniques and ayurveda medicine.
RamDev believes that the practice of yoga is a divine science which leads people to lead happier and healthier lives. Health and wellness are the core teachings of his practice.
Some claim that he cured himself of paralysis with yoga (which I personally find impossible to believe).
Some aren’t wild about a yoga guru getting involved with politics (It does seem rather distracting to have all the political stuff happening along with yoga and medicine, though I can understand that he sees it as part of his duty in the world). Though he campaigns against government corruptions, there have been accusations of tax evasion against him. He has made claims that yoga can cure cancer and that yoga education should replace sex education in schools, which are pretty outrageous claims (though doing yoga ALONG with medical treatments for cancer or education on sex sounds like a fine idea).
I had never heard of him before someone on my Facebook page pointed him out to me. I have not had physical yoga as part of my spiritual journey thus far (though I am interested in giving it a try). I don’t think I would get involved in with this guru mainly because of all the politics. From my research online, I find it difficult to get any information about his teachings rather than his politics. On the other hand, taking a stand against corruption is an admirable stance. I hope he really means it. (It appears that hacker group Anonymous believes in him)
UPDATE: People on my Facebook page are telling me that he’s wonderful. That his yoga programs are inspiring and his voice calm and soothing. I wish it were easier to get videos of that!
There are a number of online stores selling medicinal/ayruveda products apparently based on or endorsed by his teachings, though it would seem you already need to know what you’re looking for as their isn’t any guidance.
Baba RamDev Yoga (a blog with more politics than yoga)
* I am not endorsing any of the teachers highlighted in this feature