14. Dec.1918 - 20.Aug.2014
BKS Iyengar was born in 1918 in Karnataka, India. He was born a sickly child with little hope of survival. His brother-in-law, the renowned Yogacharya T Krishnamacharya, first introduced him to yoga asanas at the age of 15 years to improve his health. Within a few years, in 1937, his Guru instructed him to settle down in Pune where there was a requirement for a yoga teacher in the Deccan Gymkhana.
This was a turning point in BKS Iyengar’s life as he realized yoga held the key for his survival, both physically and financially. Armed with only inadequate knowledge on yoga asanas, he determined to learn through his personal experience and hence experimented with various techniques. The number of students grew exponentially with the rapid strides he made in yoga and as his reputation spread.
In 1952, he had the opportunity to meet Yehudi Menuhin who was performing in Bombay but suffering from acute pain. Through yoga, BKS Iyengar was able to cure his pain within a short span of time. This resulted in a lifelong friendship and Menuhin encouraged him to teach in London and some European cities. Guruji is credited for the spread of yoga’s popularity internationally.
In 1966, Guruji’s first book, the seminal Light on Yoga was published. Hailed as the “Bible of Yoga”, it soon became an international bestseller and has by now been translated into 17 languages. The author of 14 books, some of his other titles include Light on Pranayama and Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
In 1975, he established RIMYI, Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, which is renowned as an institute for higher learning in yoga.
Guruji dislocated his spine in an accident and this led to his inventing innovative props so that disabled people could also practice and enjoy the benefits of yoga. He drew inspiration from images of Lord Narasimha, for example, who is always depicted with a belt around his knees. Another example he gives is of the rope which replaces the tree used by yogis to support themselves in certain asanas.
Although he insists that it is not he who has given it the name, Iyengar Yoga is today known for body alignment and precision. Guruji has introduced to yoga, a special focus on sequencing which goes beyond its traditional definition. He also emphasizes the length of time a practitioner should stay in an asana.
The Ministry of Fed. Star Registration ( USA) announced that a star in the northern hemisphere had been named after Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar
The Government of India bestowed on him, the Padma Shri followed by the Padma Bhushan in 2002.
Time Magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Guruji returned to the USA to launch his book, Light on Life and also led a yoga conference in Estes Park, Colorado in conjunction with the Yoga Journal.
BBC has hailed him as the “Michelangelo of Yoga” , after the iconic artist-sculptor of the Renaissance age
Oxford Dictionary includes “Iyengar” as a noun:
A type of ashtanga yoga focusing on the correct alignment of the body, making use of straps, wooden blocks, and other objects as aids to achieving the correct postures.
Origin: Named after B. K. S. Iyengar (born 1918), the Indian yoga teacher who devised this method”
Guruji was invited to hold a workshop in Russia which was attended by hundreds of people. The Indian Express named him as one of the 100 Most Powerful Indians in 2009
Guruji received a rousing welcome in China on the occasion of the Indo-Chinese Yoga Summit which was termed a huge success internationally. The Chinese Government issued a set of stamps featuring Guruji to commemorate this visit.
Guruji was nominated for Jamnalal Bajaj Quality award
Guruji received Padma Vibhushan from the President of India Mr. Pranabh Mukherjee on 26th April 2014. Padma Vibhushan is the second highest honorary award after Bharat Ratna presented to the citizen of India.
Guruji recently celebrated his 95th birthday and continues to practice daily and give instructions to teachers of Iyengar yoga who visit RIMYI, Pune regularly. Practitioners of Iyengar yoga worldwide draw inspiration from his teachings and writings.