International Day of Yoga also referred to as World Yoga day is celebrated annually on 21st June, since Prime Minister Modi initiated this day on 2015. On account of World Yoga day, lets take a look at some significant figures in the field of Yoga like B.K.S Iyengar, Baba Ramdev & Pattabhi Jois. I will be speaking about B.K.S Iyengar, who created and propagated one of the most famous style of Yoga, Iyengar Yoga. Lets have a look at his life, teachings, vision and his work in Yoga.
B.K.S Iyengar (Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja), dearly called Guruji by Iyengar yoga practitioners was born on December 14, 1918 in Karnataka. His initial few years weren’t amongst his fittest as he suffered from many ailments including malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis. His father sent him to Mysore to learn Yoga from T.Krishnamacharya, also known as father of modern Yoga.
T.Krishnamacharya was teaching at Parakala Math at that time, with support from King of Mysore. We all know that T.Krishmacharya trained most famous personalities in yoga; Pattabhi Jois, Indira Devi, Desikachar, A.G Mohan to name a few.
Krishnamacharya sent Iyengar to Pune to teach Yoga at age of 18 years after two years of training with him! It is said that Iyengar couldn’t complete his Yoga training with his teacher & most of his teachings are from his own practice! I myself trained under one of his students in my first few years of Yoga. He went through lot of struggle in his initial days of teaching at Deccan Gymkhana. He would practice 8 hours a day besides teaching and managing his family. 8 Hours of sadhana!! That is incredible. “I pushed myself to the limits in my practice in order to do my duty to my teacher and guardian and to satisfy his demanding expectations,” he wrote in Light on Life. Each Asana that he does, looks like an art of work. Here is a small clip of young Iyengar practicing Yoga: Click here.
For those who have done Iyengar Yoga, know they heavily rely on props in there classes. This usage of props to help injured or old people to do Yoga is completely Iyengar’s creation. When he was young, he would practice with vessels and whatever furniture is available at home. His practice was mainly based creativity in using household stuff to get proper alignment. He was a perfectionist and his vision was to create a style that will mainly focus on alignment in asanas. To use Yoga exercise as tool to cure the ill and to recover the injured! He himself had overcome many ailments with his rigorous and dedicated practice of Yoga.
Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) is the heart and soul of Iyengar School. It is named after his late wife Ramamani Iyengar. I have seen people from various background and different age groups practising there in a yoga session.
A major breakthrough in terms of spreading Yoga to the west happened when he published his book ” The Light on Yoga” He has taught many famous personalities including violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Him teaching headstand to the 85-year old Queen of Belgium never goes unmentioned! He had become a Global brand in himself!
A typical Iyengar style class starts with prayer to Patanjali with a tone heavily based on carnatic music, followed by Om chanting. The asana practice starts with standing and balance postures sans Surya-namaskar. They cover seated, lying-down postures and inverted postures throughout the class. It is concluded with 5 min of Shavasana. One aspect which I felt was missing in beginner level class was Pranayama practice.
B.K.S iyengar passed away on August 20, 2014 . Google paid tribute to this legend by publishing the doodle in image below. I hope his dedication towards Yoga inspires you to do at least few minutes of yoga sadhana daily.