It saddens me to report B.K.S. Iyengar, the beloved yoga guru, left his body Wednesday morning at the age of 95.
Iyengar was born into a life of hardship in India in the southern state of Karnataka during the global influenza outbreak in 1918. His village was in the grip of the influenza epidemic at the time of his birth, leaving Iyengar sick and weak. Throughout his childhood and early teens Iyengar struggled with his health.
It was in Mysore in 1934 that Iyengar learned asana practice from his brother-in-law Krishnamacharya. His regular yoga practice began to steadily improve his health. Three years later at the age of 18 Iyengar moved to Pune, India and began teaching yoga. While his teaching slowed later in life, he continued practicing asanas well into his 90s.
Iyengar is known for helping to bring yoga to the west through his teachings and writings with his international recognition beginning in 1952. In 1966 Iyengar published his book “Light on Yoga,” which was translated into 18 languages and inspired yogis around the world — myself included.
In the 1970s Iyengar established his popular Iyengar Yoga, a form of Hatha yoga, with focus on proper alignment and breath control. Iyengar successfully streamlined 200 asanas and 14 types of Pranayama techniques ranging from basic to advanced with the intention to help the student move from simple poses to more complex ones while developing their mind and body. It’s not uncommon to use props during Iyengar Yoga to help achieve proper alignment and minimize the risk of injury.
B.K.S. Iyengar made yoga more accessible to the average person, regardless of age or health concerns. His influence and teachings touched millions. He will be missed.