The world’s most widely practiced method of Yoga is that taught by Yogacharya Sri B.K.S. Iyengar (Guruji) of Pune, India.
Iyengar Yoga is centered upon the philosophy of Alignment and Precision in Posture (asana) and Breath Control (pranayama). Founded and developed by a living Yoga Master also known as the Father of Modern Yoga, Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar (14 December 1918 – 20 August 2014) or better known as B.K.S. Iyengar, successfully brought the classical practice of yoga to modern times through his 65 years of teaching, spread it beyond the shores of India and made it relevant, accessible and beneficial to millions of people around the world.
Born on December 14, 1918, in Bellur, India into a poor Iyengar family and was the 11th of 13 children to parents Sri Krishnamachar, a school teacher, and his mother Sheshamma. He had a difficult childhood. Iyengar’s home village of Bellur, in Karnataka, was in the grips of the influenza pandemic at the time of his birth, leaving him sickly and weak. Iyengar’s father died when he was 9 years old, and he continued to suffer from a variety of maladies in childhood, including malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and general malnutrition.
At the age of 15 Iyengar went to live with his brother-in-law, the well-known yogi, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya in Mysore. There, Iyengar began to learn asana practice, which steadily improved his health. Soon he overcame his childhood weaknesses.
With the encouragement of Krishnamacharya, Iyengar moved to Pune to teach yoga in 1937. There his practice developed as he spent many hours each day learning and experimenting in various techniques. As his methods improved, the number of students at his classes increased and his fame spread. In 1975, Guruji opened the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, in memory of his departed wife. He officially retired from teaching in 1984, but continues to be active in the world of Iyengar Yoga, teaching special classes and writing books. Iyengar’s daughter, smt. Geeta, and son, Shri. Prashant, have gained international acclaim as teachers.
Yogacharya BKS Iyengar is recognized as one of the world’s foremost exponents of yoga. He became known in the West through his classic text Light on Yoga first published in 1966 which eventually became an international bestseller and in October 2005. The book was translated into 17 different languages and sold three million copies and has never been out of print since then. Light on Yoga was succeeded by 10 more publications up till the year 2012. A full list of books can be found on [reference required]. Refer to reference books: click here
He has authored more than 15 yoga books and they’ve been considered as guides for any yoga practitioners. He is acknowledged as having been instrumental in bringing yoga to the west. He sees yoga as an art, a science, a philosophy – not secret or exclusive and, at the age of 93 (in December 2011) has not in any sense “retired”. Each morning for two to three hours he does his personal practice, alongside his pupils in RIMYI hall. A demanding teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar guides his students to practice asanas in different ways emphasizing the importance of the proper sequencing of the asana practice to understand not just how, but why and what happens when you do an asana.
Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar is renowned throughout the world for his therapeutic approach to yoga. His innovative use of supports or “props” modifying classical postures, allows a student who may be ailing and whose body is stiff bodies to be supported in asanas without strain or the risk of further damage. Sporting teams, dancers, musicians and many others have been helped in recovering from injury and illness through these methods.
Reputed for its therapeutic benefits to the mind, body, soul and spirit, Iyengar Yoga gained popularity and a strong footing internationally, touching many lives including some of the world’s renowned figures such as violinist Yehudi Menuhin, philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti and more.
Over many years Guruji’s contribution to yoga has been acknowledged with many awards – the first being given in 1935 at a World YMCA conference in Mysore, India. More recently, in 2004, he was named in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.