B.K.S. Iyengar

Yoga Guru - B.K.S. Iyengar
Yoga Guru - B.K.S. Iyengar
Yogacharya B.K.S.Iyengar (Guruji) is a living legend who has taught yoga in unique way to all his students. He finds the meaning of the yoga sutras by his practical search and regular practice of yoga. Thus, he has helped all to experience the wisdom of the yoga sutras. His style of teaching yoga is called "Iyengar Yoga" and is now being followed by certified teachers across the world.

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (BKS) Iyengar was born on December 14, 1918. His father Sri Krishnamachar was a school teacher and therefore Guruji has all his father's qualities even at this age. Guruji was a victim of malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis in his childhood .

Yogastha (pdf): One who is firmly and completely established in Yoga–A tribute to Guruji. Yogastha [Marathi]

His childhood
He started doing yoga as a teenager in an effort to improve his health after contracting tuberculosis, studying with his brother-in-law, Krishnamacharya, in Mysore, India. Iyengar began began teaching yoga in 1936. As American and European students began seeking yoga instruction in the 1960s, Iyengar's method rose to prominence. He established his principle school, the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (named for his wife) in Pune, India in 1975.

His family
In 1943, Guruji married Ramamani who was sixteen year old. She supported Guruji along with her family of five daughters namely Geeta, Vinita, Suchita, Sunita and Savitha and one son Prashant.

Both Geetaji and Prashantji are supporting Guruji in teaching Iyengar Yoga even today.

His disciples
B.K.S.Iyengar taught several eminent personalities such as J. Krishnamurti (ideal teacher),Jayaprakash Narayan (freedom fighter), Achyut Patwardhan (commandant of National Defence Academy) and also many physicians and industrialists.

Guruji's practice and teachings were well appreciated by Dr. Rajendra Prasad(First President of India), Dr. Mohammad Hatta (ex-Vice President of Indonesia), Pope Paul VI and also by other eminent personalities from different countries.

A fortuitous meeting with the violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin in 1952 was instrumental in introducing the Western World to Guruji. Menuhin was responsible in introducing several luminaries to BKS Iyengar. One of them being the Queen Mother of Belgium.

Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) Pune, India
Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) Pune, India
This center became a nexus for the popularization of yoga. As one of the first teachers to teach yoga to westerners, Iyengar's influence on modern asana practice cannot be overstated. He died on August 20, 2014, at the age of 95. His son Prashant and daughter Geeta now administer the RIMYI.

The Iyengar Method: Alignment and Props
Iyengar's method, a form of hatha yoga, is based on giving primacy to the physical alignment of the body in the poses. In this style, it is taught that there is a correct way to do each pose and that every student will one day be able to attain perfect poses through consistent practice. Iyengar believed that once balance is achieved in a student's body, it will soon be reflected in his or her mind.

One of Iyengar's major innovations was the use of props. Today, it is quite common to see blankets, blocks, straps, pillows, chairs, and bolsters being used in yoga studios.

The use of these props is comparatively new in the history of yoga and comes directly from Iyengar. The purpose of the props is to allow students to have the best possible alignment while their bodies are opening up.

Case Study: How to Use Props in the Iyengar Tradition
As an example, let's look at triangle pose.

Hatha Yoga poses
In this pose, your hand ideally comes to the floor on the outside of your front foot. But what if it is difficult or impossible for you to bring your hand to the floor without compromising the opening of your chest, which is one of the main purposes of the pose? In Iyengar's view, the alignment of the left shoulder over the right should be facilitated by the use of a block under the right hand until the body becomes open enough so that the block is no longer needed. This is one of the ways in which Iyengar's method makes yoga more accessible to a wide range of people. The props are used the adapt the body to the correct alignment, and can be used according to the student's own needs.

More About Iyengar's Method: No Flow
Vinyasa flow is a term used in yoga to describe the fluid transition from one pose to the next in conjunction with either an inhale or exhale of breath. Iyengar-style yoga includes very little vinyasa flow. Instead, poses are held for longer durations while the alignment is perfected.

 Therefore, Iyengar yoga is not as intense a cardiovascular experience as a more flowing style such as Ashtanga. Holding the poses, however, is strenuous, builds strength, and is excellent for increasing flexibility. The absence of vinyasa flow is another reason why the Iyengar method brings yoga within reach of a broad population. It's a great place to start for people who are not physically able to do a flowing style practice. This makes Iyengar one of the most popular styles of yoga worldwide.

Iyengar's Writings
In addition to developing and popularizing his style of practice, Iyengar's books are highly respected and have become classic yoga texts. Chief among them is Light on Yoga, first published in 1966, which describes and illustrates hundreds of yoga poses and many breathing techniques. His other important books include Light on Pranayama, which focuses on breath work, and Light on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which is a translation and interpretation of the ancient Yoga Sutras, from which Iyengar drew the philosophical groundwork for his method of yoga. His last book, Light on Life, addresses the mental and spiritual aspects of yoga.

Is Iyengar Yoga for You?
Don't get the idea that an Iyengar class will be easy, even though the style of practice is adaptable to different levels. Iyengar is also very appealing to more advanced yogis who want to work on their alignment. People who are very meticulous, technical, have an interest in anatomy, and an appreciation of subtle movements in the body typically enjoy Iyengar-style practice. Even if you never take an Iyengar class, his influence is so prevalent today you will surely encounter it in the way poses are taught and props are used across the yoga spectrum.

Address:

Institute Iyengar Yoga Shala (Branch of RIMYI)
Address 426, Sector 27/A, Nigdi , Pune , Maharashtra - 411 044
Phone 91-20-27652124
E-mail iyengaryogashala@gmail.com

Official Website:  http://bksiyengar.com/modules/Teacher/teacher.asp

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