B.K.S. Iyengar: The Man Who Disseminated Yoga across the Globe

The stage is all set to celebrate the international day of yoga at the global level with indian government leaving no stone unturned to spread the message of yoga to the whole world. From the ancient times when yoga was confined within India to this date when it is globally recognized, it has been practiced and popularized by many yoga gurus. B.K.S. Iyengar is one such personality considered as the foremost person who spread yoga on the foreign land. As we celebrate the first International Day of Yoga let’s have a look at the contribution of B.K.S. Iyengar.

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, popularly known as Guruji was born on December 14, 1918 at Bellur in Kolar district, Karnataka. He has been awarded with Padma Shri (1991), Padma Bhushan (2002) and Padma Vibhushan (2014) by the Govt. of India for his contribution to Yoga. He was one of the earliest student of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya who is considered as the Father of Modern Yoga. B.K.S. Iyengar was known for his dynamic yoga style known as Iyengar Yoga and studied anatomy, psychology and physiology to pioneer therapeutic yoga. He has millions of followers spread in more than 70 countries, there are over 30,000 Iyengar Yoga students in China.

Though many of us might not be aware of the yoga maestro within the country but his impact worldwide could be assessed from the fact that he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by the Time magazine in the year 2004. In June 2011, the Beijing branch of China post presented him the commemorative stamp issued in his honour. Moreover, the Oxford dictionary defined the noun “Iyengar” as a type of Hatha yoga focusing on correct alignment of the body.

Iyengar during his childhood was debilitated by illness, he suffered from malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid and malnutrition. Taking into account his physical weakness, Iyengar was invited by his brother in law Tirumalai Krishnamacharya to come to Mysore where he ran a yoga school. Iyengar mastered the yogic asanas and was soon able to overcome his physical weakness. In 1937, at the age of 18, he was sent to Pune to spread the teaching of yoga. It was late in the year 1952 when he got the opportunity that later on transformed him from an Indian yoga teacher to an International teacher. The fortune came in the form of meeting with violinist Yehudi Menuhin who was keen to learn about yoga. Menuhin was greatly impressed by yoga and the way it was taught by Iyengar.

Later on, Menuhin attributed yoga as the factor that improved his skills in playing violin and invited Iyengar to Switzerland. Since then B.K.S. Iyengar made regular visits to foreign land to teach yoga.
In 1975, he opened the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute at Pune which is named after his wife Ramamani Iyengar. Iyengar taught yoga to many great personalities like Jiddi Krishnamurty, Jay Prakash Narayan, Yehudi Menuhin, Sachin Tendulkar and Kareena Kapoor.

He has authored 14 books, among them ‘Light on Yoga’, ‘Light on Yoga sutra of Patanjali’, Light on Pranayama’ and ‘Light on Life’ gained much appreciation by the practitioners. ‘Light on Yoga’ was published in the year 1966 and has been translated into 17 languages with more than three million copies sold worldwide.

B.K.S. Iyengar passed away on August 20, 2014 due to renal and heart failure. He used to say         ‘my body is my temple and asanas are my prayers’ and considered yoga as a spiritual discipline. He never sought of publicity through his whole life but silently contributed a lot in the recognition of yoga worldwide. Let’s not forget him as we celebrate the International Day of Yoga on 21st June.

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