With the passing away of BKS Iyengar at the age of 95, one can truly say modern Yoga has lost its biggest proponent. We look at the life and work of this Guru who made us holistically healthy.
The Guru of modern Yoga came into this world on 14 December 1918, in Bellur, Karnataka. His full name was Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar. The 11th son of a school teacher from the Hebbar Iyengar community, Iyengar was a weak child and suffered from innumerable health issues.
It was his brother-in-law Sri Tirumala Krishnamacharya who brought 15-year-old Iyengar to Mysore to become healthy via Yoga. Within two years, he learned everything he could. Iyengar himself gave credit to Krishnamacharya. At the young age of 18, Pune is where he arrived to spread his knowledge. It is interesting to note that his guru did not think much of Iyengar when it came to Yoga. But, while Krishnamacharya is called the Guru of modern Yoga, it is Iyengar who carried his legacy forward.
Methods and Greatness
A form of Hatha Yoga, Iyengar Yoga is a mix of detailing, precision and alignment. This helps in the growth of mind, body and soul. He made sure that one followed a sequence of exercises to get the required results.
Over 200 classical yoga poses and 14 types of pranayama asanas can be credited to Iyengar. When he received an injury to his spine in an accident, he created asanas using props like belts, blankets and so on. It meant that one could practice yoga with ease despite an injury and work towards a healthy existance.
It was the legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who took Iyengar and his yoga to the west. Slowly, his followers started to grow. These included names like J Krishnamurti, Jayprakash Narayan, Aldous Huxley, Annette Bening, Donna Karan, Sachin Tendulkar, Kareena Kapoor and even 80-year-old Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. Pune became the centre of his work when his Ramamani Iyengar Yoga Institute was established in 1975. Today, followers from all over the globe come to learn yoga at the Institute.
His Writings and More
His method of yoga also reached people through his books. His works like Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, The Tree of Yoga, Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, Yoga Wisdom and Practice and so on made his work and philosophy reach his followers. Though he retired in 1984 and his institute was run by one of his daughters and his only son, one could see the positive effect of Yoga on him when he showed still various asanas with ease.
It is in the West where his teachings got him recognition. Only after his style became known there, that Indians started following him as well. Though various versions of Yoga came in later, he was not very fond of them and at times, openly contradicted them.
His style of yoga and the way he propagated it can be described in this sentence by Ka Pattabhi Jois – Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.
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