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B.K.S. Iyengar & the Iyengar family

B.K.S. Iyengar

“Yoga is for all. Nobody should be denied the opportunity to experience its benevolence”

B.K.S. Iyengar

The world’s most widely practised method of yoga is that taught by Yogacharya Sri B.K.S. Iyengar of Pune, India. Born on December 14, 1918, in Bellur, India, he studied and practised yoga continuously for over 85 years. BK.S. Iyengar is acknowledged by many as one of the world’s greatest yoga teachers.

Mr Iyengar’s thorough study, understanding and mastery of yoga are unrivalled in modern times. Having taught for over 75 years in all five continents, he won worldwide respect and recognition for his achievements and made yoga accessible and relevant to people everywhere, no matter what their physical or mental ability. He set the standard for his teachers and students while his textbooks on yoga have become classics. He set up the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India (named after his late wife, Ramamani) where his son Sri Prashant Iyengar and granddaughter Abhijata Sridhar Iyengar are now directors.

Triumphing over poverty and serious childhood illness, B.K.S. Iyengar began his study of yoga at a young age with his guru, T. Krishnamacharya. Practicing hour after hour, year after year, he acquired the encyclopedic knowledge, which fired his teaching.

Yogacharya Sri B.K.S. Iyengar brought yoga to the west with his pioneering teaching in the 70s, the beginning of today’s explosive growth in yoga. His seminal manual Light on Yoga, called “the bible of yoga” and continuously in print since 1966, has been the source book for generations of yoga students.

His invention of yoga props — now ubiquitous in yoga studios of all styles — revolutionized the art. Blankets, belts and other devices allow students of all skill levels to work safely in the classical yoga asanas (postures). He also revolutionized the therapeutic applications of yoga, gaining recognition for yoga as treatment for serious medical conditions.

Mr. Iyengar continued his daily practice at RIMYI until shortly before his death at the age of 95 on August 20, 2014. The Institute, which now attracts thousands of visitors from around the world, was named for his late wife Ramamani, who died shortly before it was completed.

Mr. Iyengar also transformed his ancestral village of Bellur, in southern India, with a visionary series of projects including a hospital, a water treatment plant, educational opportunities including those for the girls of the village, and India’s first temple dedicated to Patanjali.

B.K.S. Iyengar’s other influential works include Light on Pranayama, Light on the Yoga Sutras, The Tree of Yoga and Light on Life (see our list of suppliers to order these books).

Dr Geeta S. Iyengar

“Yoga is not about being in a race with other people. It is facing up to yourself. That is a hard thing.”

Dr Geeta S. Iyengar

Dr Geeta S. Iyengar, eldest daughter of Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar was considered by her students to be the world’s leading female yoga teacher.

She studied yoga with her father from an early age and, after graduating from high school in 1961, she began substituting for her father when he was away on international teaching tours. Since her father’s retirement in 1984, she was co-director, with her brother Prashant S. Iyengar, of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) Pune, as well as undertaking her own international teaching tours. She visited the UK twice to teach at large conventions.

Geetaji adapted her father’s method of yoga to the specific requirements of women. Specific asanas, pranayama and sequences are given for different stages in a woman’s life including menstruation, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause.

Geetaji died on 16 December 2018, aged 74, two days after her father’s birth centenary.

Prashant S. Iyengar

“Yoga is not a work-out culture. It is a work-in culture.”

Prashant S. Iyengar

Sri Prashant Iyengar is the son of BKS Iyengar and the director of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) where he teaches daily classes and specialised workshops. 

He gives many talks on yoga and conducts a weekly session on the yoga sutras with his nephew Srineet Sridharan

His teachings encourage us to broaden out the concepts of yoga beyond the physical practice and outcomes of health and wellbeing.  He urges his students to study the interplay of mind, body and breath and how they resonate with the yoga within.  

He also emphasises the importance of being your own teacher and, as such, learning through exploring, experimenting and observing.  He warns us to be very wary of received techniques and dogma, not to limit our practice by simply “doing” asana and pranayama, but to open ourselves up to a complete immersion in this amazing subject.

He is also a great scholar and has written many books on the subject of yoga.

Abhijata Sridhar Iyengar

“All parts of the human being have to be connected. The various details of the asanas take you on this path. Connection towards union”

Abhijata Sridhar Iyengar

Abhijata Sridhar Iyengar is one of the most experienced teachers at RIMYI in Pune and has been involved with the practice and philosophy of yoga since the age of 16. She was taught by her grandfather, Yogacharya BKS Iyengar, as well as her aunt, Geeta and uncle, Prashant. She travelled with BKS Iyengar to Rusia and China for conventions and also joined Geeta in conventions in the UK, Australia and the US. Abhijata is also a director of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI).

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