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. B K.S. Iyengar is universally acknowledged as the world’s greatest yoga teacher.
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 in Pune, India, where his son Sri Prashant Iyengar and grand-daughter Abhijata Sridhar Iyengar are 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). Mr. Iyengar also revolutionized the therapeutic applications of yoga, gaining recognition for yoga as treatment for serious medical conditions.
Mr. Iyengar continued his daily practice at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India, until shortly before his death at the age of 95 on August 20, 2014. Named for Mr. Iyengar’s late wife, who died shortly before it was completed.
Mr. Iyengar’s daughter, Geeta S. Iyengar, is the author of Yoga: A Gem for Women, the pioneering work on yoga for every stage of a woman’s life. She died in December 2018. His son, Prashant S. Iyengar, has also written extensively about yoga. Mr. Iyengar’s other influential works include Light on Pranayama, Light on the Yoga Sutras, The Tree of Yoga and Light on Life.
Mr. Iyengar has 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.