(Last Updated on : 04/03/2010)
BKS Iyengar is one of the most famous teachers of yoga in the world who has been practicing and teaching for the last sixty years. He is considered as the living legend of yoga. Millions of students and teachers follow the method of BKS Iyengar through the Iyengar Yoga Centers situated all over the world. Sri Iyengar has written many books on Yogic practise and the philosophy of Yoga which includes `Light on Yoga`, `Light on Pranayama`,` Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali` and many more.
BKS Iyengar was born in 1918 in a poor family in the village of Bellur in Karnataka states of India. In his childhood he has to face difficult circumstances. His mother gave his birth during an epidemic of influenza and he was born very seek and weak. His father passed away when he was only a boy of nine years. He lived with his brother in Bangalore. In his childhood Iyengar suffered from various diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and typhoid along with malnutrition.
When BKS Iyenger was a boy of fifteen years old, he was invited to stay with his eldest sister and her husband, who was none other than famous yoga guru Sri T. Krishnamacharya. That time Krishnamacharya ran a yoga school in the palace of Mysore with the patronization of Raja of Mysore. BKS Iyenger was initially given some basic instructions to improve his poor health. His guru was very strict who used to drive him hard. So at first Mr Iyenger had to struggle hard. But his diligence brought him success as he mastered some postures of Yoga and his health gradually improved.
In the year 1937, Mr Iyengar was asked by his Guru to go to Pune to teach yoga. In Pune, the life was also tough as he was weak in English and new the local language Marathi very little. But he had no choice other than making his living through Yoga teaching as he had to left school before completing his study. Moreover he realized that he had no experience in theoretical knowledge and so he decided to learn the various methods of Yoga through trial and error method. At the beginning his students knew better than him. So he spent many hours in practice. Sometimes he practiced whole day and survived on only waters for days and sometimes merely had some bread or rice. This time was also difficult for his Yoga practice as he often made mistakes through incorrect postures and had to place heavy weights on his body to remove stress and aches. However he was consistent and unwilling to give up which brought him success in understanding different techniques of the yogic postures and their effects. The number of his students also increased. But his financial condition still remained poor, as Yoga was not that widely understood, even in India.
In 1943, his brothers arranged his marriage to Ramamani. Mr.Iyenger tried to avoid the marriage for sometime, as he knew he did not earn enough to support a family. But he changed his mind on meeting with Ramamani. Initially life was very hard for them but he could come out of his poverty through hard working. They agreed that she would take care of the family while he would take the responsibility of earning money. But later she had the responsibility of introducing the subject of yoga to her children.
Slowly Mr. BKS Iyengar earned his reputation as the yoga teacher. Later he met the great violinist Yehudi Menuhin in 1952, who introduced him to the world and he could have international recognition. Yehudi Menuhin arranged for BKS Iyengar to teach abroad in London, Switzerland, Paris and other places of the world. He had the opportunity to work all over the world and meet the people from all walks of life.
Then His first book named `Light on Yoga` was published in the year 1966, which eventually turned out to be the bestseller in the international market. This book had several reprints and edition and was translated in different languages. The book made Yoga truly universal. The book later followed by the titles covering Pranayama and various aspects of yoga philosophy. The latest work of BKS Iyenger `Yoga:the Path of Holistic Health` was published in the year 2001.
In the year 1975, Mr Iyengar opened the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute to pay tribute to his wife who passed away just before. Mr iyengar`s eldest daughter Geeta and son, Prashant also taught Yoga under their father`s guidance.
In 1984, Mr.BKS Iyengar officially retired from teaching. Still he continued to teach medical classes and teaches at special events. Even after the retirement he was fully active in promoting yoga worldwide and was involved with the institute and its charitable foundation in a full-fledged manner. He was physically quite capable but had the idea to allow next generation to come through and so her did not want to attach to his position there. The classes still run regularly, which are extremely popular and oversubscribed. Geeta, Prashant and other senior teachers conduct these. Iyengar has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine.
In 2005, he visited the United States to promote his latest book, `Light on Life`, and to teach a special workshop at the Yoga Journal conference in Colorado.
It can be said that Mr. BKS Iyengar is one of the most renowned Yoga-Gurus of India who introduced Yoga to the west. Iyengar style Yoga is most popular and most widely practiced in Europe and America today.