Why Iyengar yoga
The oxford dictionary defines Iyengar yoga as “A type of ashtanga yoga focusing on the correct alignment of the body, making use of straps, wooden blocks, and other objects as aids to achieving the correct postures.
YogacharyaB.K.S.Iyengar (Guruji) is a legend who has taught yoga in a unique way to all his students. He finds the meaning of the yoga sutras by his practical search and regular practice of yoga. Thus, he has helped all to experience the wisdom of the yoga sutras. His style of teaching yoga is called “Iyengar Yoga” and is now being followed by certified teachers across the world.
Iyengar yoga is meant for all and is a way of life. The use of props, designed by Guruji , such as wooden gadgets, belts, ropes helps the practitioner to achieve perfection in any asana. Regular practice of ‘Iyengar Yoga’ definitely integrates the body, mind and emotions.
Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar with his intellectual and spiritual practices has masterminded the techniques which can be used by all practitioners of yoga. “Research based experience” and “experience based research” has helped him in evolving this technique which is now known as”Iyengar Yoga”.
BellurKrishnamacharSundararaja (BKS) Iyengar was born on December 14, 1918. His father Sri Krishnamachar was a school teacher and therefore Guruji has all his father’s qualities even at this age. Guruji was a victim of malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis in his childhood .
At the age of 16, he was introduced to yoga by his Guru Sri T. Krishnamacharya. At the age of 18, he was sent to Pune, Maharashtra by his guru to teach and preach yoga as he knew a little of English. This missed his opportunity to learn a lot about yoga directly from his guru.
Guruji was a sincere and committed practitioner. His own practice helped him to explore and achieve perfection in yoga asanas. This is reflected in his teachings all over these years.
In 1943, Guruji married Ramamani who was sixteen year old. She supported Guruji along with her family of five daughters namely Geeta, Vinita, Suchita, Sunita and Savitha and one son Prashant.
Both Geetaji and Prashantji are supporting Guruji in teaching Iyengar Yoga even today.
B.K.S.Iyengar taught several eminent personalities such as J. Krishnamurti (ideal teacher),Jayaprakash Narayan (freedom fighter), Achyut Patwardhan (commandant of National Defence Academy) and also many physicians and industrialists.
Guruji’s practice and teachings were well appreciated by Dr. Rajendra Prasad(First President of India), Dr. Mohammad Hatta (ex-Vice President of Indonesia), Pope Paul VI and also by other eminent personalities from different countries.
A fortuitous meeting with the violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin in 1952 was instrumental in introducing the Western World to Guruji. Menuhin was responsible in introducing several luminaries to BKS Iyengar. One of them being the Queen Mother of Belgium.
Guruji’s teachings were first published in 1966 as Light on Yoga . This book has been translated into 18 languages. Today, he is the author of 14 books.
Guruji was the first person to teach large group of students. He lays great emphasis on precision and alignment which is followed by his students. He gets students to perform and break barriers. He brings about an automatic transformation in the mind and habits of people. He is the only person to teach the highest aspects of yoga – Atma Darshan through asanas. He has taught several famous personalities.
In 1998, he taught 800 of his students for a week on the occasion of his 80th birthday at Pune. Again, in the year 2000, he conducted a special course for senior “Iyengar Yoga” teachers from nearly 40 countries.
Even untill the age of 95, he continued to practice. While in practice, he is an artist at work. He is always at ease in any posture he performs. Precision and beauty mark the asana, and the regular practice he advocates integrates the body, mind and emotions.
What are the unique features of “Iyengar Yoga”?
Listed are few of the important features of Iyengar Yoga:
- Iyengar Yoga can be practiced by all.
- The emphasis is given to precision and alignment in all postures.
- The use of self designed props such as wooden gadgets, belts, ropes helps the practitioner to achieve perfection in all the postures.
- The aspect of “sequencing”. An “Iyengar Yoga” practitioner is aware of the sequence in which different groups of asanas have to be performed.
Does “Iyengar Yoga” involve only asanas and pranayama?
“Iyengar Yoga” teaches all the 8 aspects of astanga yoga: Yama, Niyama, Asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
YogacharyaB.K.S.Iyengar has been teaching us how the performance of an asana needs disciplines encoded by yama and niyama, how the body needs to be guided in asana, the role of the breath (pranayama), how the complete involvement of the senses of perception (pratyahara) and total concentration (dharana and dhyana) help to attain samadhi.
Is Iyengar Yoga very tough and demanding ?
“Iyengar Yoga” is definitely not meant for a casual practitioner. It is not tough but it is demanding. A student is expected to be totally (physically, mentally and emotionally) involved during his/her practices.
Will I be able to do Yoga if I am very stiff ?
A lay observer may feel that a person who is more flexible can perform yogasana better than a person who is stiff. However, this is not true. By regular practice, one can strive towards perfection in the asana where the effort to perform it becomes effortless.
On 26th January 1973, Guruji laid the foundation of Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, named after his wife Smt. Ramamani Iyengar. The institute was inaugurated on January 19, 1975.
By this time, Guruji’s eldest daughter Geeta and son Prashant were also involved in teaching yoga. They also started teaching at the institute with Guruji.
Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) is theheart and soul of Iyengar Yoga and is located in Pune, Maharashtra. Its directors are Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar, Geeta S. Iyengar and Prashant S. Iyengar. The students from all over the world come here to receive the essence of yoga and learn the values of life.
There is a great significance behind the unique design of RIMYI. The three floors represent the body, mind and soul. It’s height is 71 feet and has 8 columns which represent the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga i.e.yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.
The bust of Smt. Ramamani at the gate welcomes the visitor while that of Guruji is present in the entrance hall. Guruji’s bust has been chiseled by the Queen Mother of Belgium at the age of 81 joyous at accomplishing her life’s dream of performing Sirsasana.
The institute is filled with numerous awards, citations, presentations, offerings and works of art presented to Guruji. The library has 8000 titles in several languages on a variety of subjects ranging from philosophy, human anatomy and physiology, ayurveda, commentaries on the scriptures, modern medicine and of course yoga.
Smt. Geeta S. Iyengar is the eldest daughter of Yogacharya BKS Iyengar and an authority in yoga. She mastered the art of yoga at a very young age by observing her father in practice. She is also graduate in philosophy. She is presently the director of Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute(RIMYI).
She is a distinguished yoga teacher. She started teaching in 1962 and today has taught thousands of students from all over the world. She has keen sense of observation and compassion for her students. Her distinguished teachings helps many women through difficult pregnancies and menopausal blues. She regularly teaches at RIMYI and has also taught at special conventions in the US, Canada, Australia, UK and Europe.
She is the author of following books:
- Yoga: A Gem for Women
- Yoga in Action – Preliminary Course
Sri. Prashant S. Iyengar
Sri. Prashant S. Iyengar is the son of Yogacharya BKS Iyengar and an authority in yoga. He is presently the director of Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) and an authority on Yoga. His knowledge about the scriptures and the ancient texts makes learning yoga very interesting. He is also an accomplished violinist.
His audio recordings on the yoga sutras are as follows: Anatomy and Physiology through the prism of yoga Asanas and the Panchamabhutas Chakras Yoga and the new millenium Pranayama Manus .