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BKS Iyengar: The Father of Modern Yoga

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BKS Iyengar – whose birth name was Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, was one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. Iyengar was born on December 14, 1918 in Kolar district of Karnataka.

The famous guru is responsible with bringing yoga to the West and popularising it all over. Iyengar is also credited with gifting the popular ‘Iyengar Yoga’ to the world. It is a form of Hatha Yoga which lays emphasis on physical alignment of the body while one is performing different asanas.

In one of his books called ‘Light of life’, Iyengar said “Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like you are constantly trying to fit broken pieces together.”

Aged 95, Iyengar died on August 20, 2014 in Pune suffering a heart failure and renal failure.

Marking his 100th birth anniversary, we bring to you some lesser known facts about the yoga guru –

  • Throughout his childhood, he struggled with malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and general malnutrition. He once wrote that his arms were thin, legs were spindly, and stomach protruded in an ungainly manner. “My head used to hang down, and I had to lift it with great effort.”
  • Iyengar was introduced to yoga by one of his brothers-in-law, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who ran a yoga school supported by the maharaja of the southern princely state of Mysore.

  • Several notable personalities were his students including- Jiddu Krishnamurti, Jayaprakash Narayan, Yehudi Menuhin, Elisabeth, Queen of Belgium, Aldous Huxley, as well as prominent Indian figures like Sachin Tendulkar and actress Kareena Kapoor. Interestingly, he taught an 85 year old Queen Elizabeth to stand on her head.
  • He systematised over 200 classical yoga poses and 14 different types of Pranayama ranging from the basic to advanced

  • He explored the use of props to help disabled people practice Yoga
  • He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2004.
  • Along with being a Yoga teacher, Iyengar was also an animal welfare supporter. He once donated Rs20 lakh to Mysore Zoo and even adopted a tiger and cub.
  • Indian government honoured Iyengar with Padma Shri (1991), Padma Bhushan (2002) and Padma Vibhushan (2014)

  • He practiced Yoga until he died. At the age of 90 he used to practice asanas for 3 hours and pranayamas for an hour daily.
  • Iyengar wrote 14 books on the subject of yoga, its practices and various techniques.

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