Last night while scrolling through Instagram my heart stopped. There in my feed was a picture of BKS Iyengar with a RIP under it. My chest tightened, tears flooded my eyes… no, it can’t be true. I panicked. It was. A quick internet search revealed that he had passed at 95. Now I suppose I shouldn’t have been shocked since I had heard that he was ill and in hospital, but last I had heard his family was insisting that he was recovering and doing well.
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and to endure what cannot be cured.” -BKS Iyengar
Death doesn’t normally upset me that much, even with people I know. I mean we are all going to die. Death happens to all of us after all, it’s just a common as birth. I guess one advantage to believing in past lives, is that it takes some of the blow out of death since I believe that we are all coming back around again. So why was I so upset about the death of an Indian man who lived miles away and whom I had never actually met or studied with? It’s taken me until today to figure that out.
“When we free ourselves from physical disabilities, emotional disturbances, and mental distractions, we open the gates to our soul.” -B.K.S. Iyengar
I start all my classes with a moment of pause and guided gratitude practice, part of that practice is pausing in reverence for the teachers that have come before, my teachers, my teachers teachers and so on. BKS Iyengar was my teachers’ teacher, and indirectly through books and DVDs my teacher too.
I feel the grief and sadness of my teachers.
My first teacher training program was steeped in Iyengar Yoga, although not an official Iyengar certification program it was heavily Iyengar Inspired. I was so blessed to have some amazing certified Iyengar teachers leading my training. Teachers like Margot Kitchen, David McAmmond, Trish Robbins & Valerie Crump just to name a few. These skilled and passionate teachers built a strong foundation for me to grow from as a Yogini and a teacher.
A fierce lion of a teacher, he demanded nothing but the best from his students. Iyengar had an attention to detail and awareness or the subtle aspects of Yoga Asana & Pranayama that no one can top. His teachers are some of the most rigorously and thoroughly trained teachers in the world.
“Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”
Despite the fact that I have branched away from my Iyengar roots somewhat, there is still the deep resonance of Iyengar Yoga and those teachers throughout my classes, practice and being today. In fact, if it weren’t for BKS Iyengar, I wouldn’t have become a Yogini or a teacher.
Whether someone is a devoted Iyengar Yogi or not, I don’t think anyone can argue about the massive influence he had on Yoga as we know it today especially in the west. He is truly the father of Yoga as we know it. In fact, 90% of today’s Yogi celebrities and influential teachers were in whole or in part trained by Iyengar or Iyengar teachers. If you have ever used props in your practice, you can thank BKS Iyengar.
Hi-lights Of BKS Iyengar’s Contribution And Influence At A Glance:
- Received gold medal known as Yoga Shikshaka Chakravarti, which means “Emperor of Yoga Teachers, Teacher of Teachers
- Author of 14 Yoga books translated into 18 languages, including Light On Yoga which is commonly deemed “The Yoga Bible”
- Named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine
- Built the foundation for Therapeutic, Medical, and Restorative Yoga as we know it today
- Iyengar created his own brand of Yoga, called “Iyengar Yoga,” and established studios in 72 countries
- Iyengar Yoga’s poses and breathing techniques have been adopted by mainstream medical practitioners to help patients suffering from many illnesses and diseases including: asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic back pain
- Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) was established on January 19, 1975, The Institute is filled with numerous awards, citations, presentations. The library has 8000 titles in several languages on a variety of subjects ranging from philosophy, human anatomy and physiology, Ayurveda, commentaries on the scriptures, modern medicine and of course Yoga.
Deepest of bows and much gratitude to the man known affectionately as Guruji. My condolences to the Iyengar family. My deepest sympathy to all of his students including my teachers.