B.K.S.Iyengar – The Man Who Spread Yoga Throughout the World

“I have lived a majestic life” were the last words of the legendary yoga guru Shri. B.K.S. Iyengar. He breathed his last on 20th August 2014.

BKS IyengarThe yoga guru popularized the ancient Indian practise of yoga throughout the world. He helped people from different countries enlighten their spiritual and physical consciousness through yoga. Today, there are over 100 Iyengar Yoga centres in the world spread over 77 countries – from Australia to Mexico, Uzbekistan to Czech Republic.

Early life and childhood
B.K.S. Iyengar was born into a poor family on December 14, 1918 in Bellur, Kolar district of Karnataka. Iyengar was one of the 10 who survived out of his 13 siblings. Life was difficult for him as his father passed away when he was 9 years old.

He was contracted with malaria, tuberculosis and typhoid and was always malnutritioned. He was weak and ill beyond hope of survival. The same person lived for 95 years! Thanks to yoga.

At the age of 16, Iyengar went to his brother-in-law T. Krishnamacharya, a yoga guru in Mysore, believing that yoga can cure his ill-health. There he practised with his guru and showed difficult yoga poses to dignitaries and guests of Maharaja of Mysore. At the age of 18, he was sent to Pune to spread the art of Yoga on direction of his guru Krishnamacharya.

Passion for yoga
Iyengar with the help of his student, Yehudi Menuhin, a popular Violinist took yoga abroad in the year 1954. Iyengar had to face racism worldwide for his appearance, nativity and art, but these things did not bother him.

He did extensive research and experiments with the art to develop his own yoga style “Iyengar Yoga” after an in-depth study and understanding the principles of Patanjali yoga and Ashtanga yoga. He had a unique way of teaching yoga to his disciples. He employed the use of over 50 props like ropes and mats to teach the pose and mould their bodies into shape for an asana.

He invented many yoga techniques and asanas to help people who suffered from physical disorders. He opened Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune to fulfil his dream for serving the people through the art of yoga. He travelled extensively over the world to spread the awareness about benefits of yoga to health even in his old age.

A philanthropist and a visionary
While spreading the art of yoga, Iyengar did a lot of humanitarian work. He helped many people with physical disorders and physical limitations to overcome their shortcomings using yoga.

He built hospitals and educational institutions and provided basic amenities like water to the people of Bellur. He associated himself with Multiple Sclerosis Society of India and spread awareness on multiple sclerosis.

Achievements, awards and accolades

  • Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar received the Padma Vibhushan award in 2014, Padma Bhusan in 2002 and Padmashri in the year 1991.
  • In 2004, Iyengar was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.
  • In Oxfords’s dictionary the word “Iyengar” states as “a type of ashtanga yoga…..”
  • Honouring Mr. Iyengar, San Francisco city’s Board of Supervisor’s declared 3 October 2005 as “B.K.S. Iyengar Day”.
  • In June 2011, Beijing branch of China post issued a commemorative stamp in the honour of Mr. Iyengar.

Literary works
His book “Light of Yoga” released in 1966 was a best seller and it was translated into over 13 languages. The book is considered the “Bible of Yoga”. His other works include, “Light of Pranayam”, and “Light on Yogasutras of Patanjali”. His latest work is “Yoga: Path to Holistic Health”.

A model of principles
“My body is my temple and asanas my prayer”, was the saying of Iyengar. His principles and values helped him face difficult situations. Even when he was 90, he practised yoga for more than three hours a day.

He encouraged his disciples to gain mastery over postures. He toured Russia and China even when he was suffering from heart attack. Such was his commitment, will power and love towards his work, yoga.

We may have lost a great teacher and a legend, but the great soul of this man will reside and live forever in the form of Iyengar Yoga.

To know more about his works and his style of teaching yoga, visit his website www.bksiyengar.com

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One Response to B.K.S.Iyengar – The Man Who Spread Yoga Throughout the World

  1. chandrika on January 8, 2015 at 6:32 pm


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