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Happy 93rd Birthday B.K.S. Iyengar, ‘Light on Life’ Giveaway

in YD News, Yoga Heroes, Yoga Origins

B.K.S. Iyengar Celebrating 93 Years (Photo: Jake Clennell)

Happy 93rd Birthday to Yogacharya B. K. S. Iyengar!

Also known as the ‘Lion of Pune’ and the man with the snazziestly bushy eyebrows this side of the rope wall.

Born in 1918, the 11th of 13 children, Iyengar grew up battling multiple diseases including malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and general malnutrition. At 15 years old he moved to Mysore to live and study yoga asana with his brother-in-law Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, where he was able to overcome many of his childhood maladies. In 1937 he moved to Pune to start teaching yoga on his own, and to continue molding what we know today as Iyengar Yoga and what has become the basis for his book Light on Yoga (1966), also referred to as the “bible of yoga.”

“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” B.K.S. Iyengar

Today we honor B.K.S. Iyengar and his many years of inspiration, paving the way for modern yoga. And we (shoulder)stand tall on 5 blankets and salute Guruji by giving away a copy of his enlightening book Light on Life. A wonderfully wise and thought-provoking read for every yogi.

TO ENTER: Tell us in the comments your favorite thing about Iyengar Yoga. Poses, props, tiny shorts. Or if you’ve never practiced it before, perhaps you just love that drunken yoga (Iyengar-inspired!). A winner will be chosen at random and announced on Friday, December 16. Good luck!

UPDATE: The winner is…Leo!!! Thanks all for commenting. Wishing you continued precision, alignment and lifted armpit chests!

Check out some of this cool footage of B.K.S. Iyengar in the day.

Classic footage of BKS Iyengar in his early 20’s from a 1938 newsreel, and just about 45 years later in a 1987 master class:



32 comments… add one
  • Ang

    I’ve been doing Iyengar Yoga for many years now! And I love it, for the most part, as long as I can take periodic flow yoga vacays….

    My fave thing about Iyengar Yoga is the attention to detail. And the props! 😉 Especially the bolsters!

  • Mark

    The emphasis on alignment and use of props are the main things that come to mind when I think of what I like about the Iyengar style.

  • Chris

    1) A teaching-style that draws even the most hesitant of novices deep into Yoga, and has them, early into the course, doing the most difficult of Asanas , effortlessly and happily, before they themselves realize it. Pure Magic !

    2) Props and techniques that are ingeniously simple, yet totally functional.

    3) The superb explanations and scholarly insight into the underlying Vedic philosophy behind each Asana, and the entire Hindu Science of Yoga.

    4) The honesty to tell it like it is – i.e. to boldly proclaim, Popularity-Ratings-be-damned, that all Yogis are indeed REQUIRED to be vegetarian, in accordance with the Yogic-principle of Ahimsa, as laid out by Patanjali.

    5) The ridiculously low tuition-fees that they charge at the Institute !
    Guruji is indeed Giving away the Store to all of Mankind, just like the Gods instructed him to do.

    Which is why it is all the more galling to come back out West, and have to deal with the horrible commercial mess that the West has made out of this noble Hindu science !

  • leo

    I love the teaching method, by using props it really help me to get to the right pose, and the fact that I have lower back pain would be much relieved with the aids of bolsters.

    If it wasn’t iyengar I wouldn’t have started doin yoga.

  • I love me some props! I also love Iyengar’s Light on the Yoga Sutras for his clear, scholarly, and passionate interpretation of the text.

  • I’m with Flissy.. I love props!!! Use them all the time… Light on Yoga is one of my fav books about yoga. BKS Rocks

  • beth

    I appreciate everyone can find their personal yoga through the Iyengar style. Props, concise language and sequencing have helped my own practice grow outside my mat…Om.

  • Tara

    I love the precision and beauty that Iyengar yoga offers us.

  • Chelsea

    I love Iyengar’s accesibility to people! A great way to learn to accept yourself!

  • Brian

    Light on Yoga is still the ‘bible’ of yoga asanas.

  • Linda

    The props can be a big help when getting started or recovering from an injury.

  • What I love about Iyengar yoga the most is that it has help me solve so many issue with my asana practice and made it flower. My body feels better, many injuries have been resolved and my own teaching is informed by my journey with Iyengar yoga.

  • Anthony Shea

    I read that B.K.S. Iyengar was in a motorcycle accident and the injuries sustained made him inflexible. As a practitioner of yoga he was unable to do some of the poses & as a result he invented the props that we commonly use today to assist us all in the poses.

  • David

    I appreciate the encyclopedic and authoritative nature of LOY. I don’t teach in the Iyengar style, nevertheless LOY is my primary asana reference.

  • Marisa Tingle

    I love the attention to detail.

  • I have never practiced this style of Yoga but thankful to have been introduced through this post. The one shoulder stand looks amazing, I will be practicing this tonight. Thank you for the opportunity. namaste

  • Bliss

    I like that Iyengar focus of form – it was the first style of yoga I practiced, and it taught me a lot about my own body.

  • I love that there is no “hiding”…whether in a pose or in your clothes (rhyming!!)…a good Iyengar teacher will sniff out your needs and call them out (to everyone, not singling you out) or give you a nice little adjustment. And as a yoga teacher, there is no better way to learn how to teach than from an Iyengar teacher.

  • Claudia

    I love that in Iyengar yoga a teacher can say “Lift your upper outer armpit chest,” with complete authority and a totally straight face. (And, of course, that everyone then does exactly as the teacher instructed).

  • I love Mr. Iyengar himself. That this whole system is created and built up and in the end, he’s just another human being. I feel so blessed that I’ve been able in this lifetime to work with him side by side. Show him pics on a computer, have him laugh at my little jokes, acknowledge me in the midst of all the thousands of other students and teachers out there…. He’s amazing. He can do sirsasana for 25 mins, get up, spit, and walk down the stairs to watch cricket match slouched on the couch. A true yogi. Happy Birthday Guruji! Thank you for everything.

  • Jessica

    emphasis on alignment!

  • Erica G

    I hated the props when I got started — way too much fuss!!
    After really living with them, I love that they give me support so I can look at the ways the muscles can work when not moving all the way to the maximum. They are a delicious teaching tool to get the body to expand.

  • A copy of LOY resides everywhere I spend time. Back when I was becoming a yoga teacher, I would read it in bed. (One night, my then boyfriend turned and said, “You still reading that? I hear they’re making it into a movie, starring Danny DeVito.”) Like most teachers I still refer to it regularly–as much for philosophy synopsis as for asana. Brilliant man, irreplaceable resource. Sri sri sri sri sri B.K.S. Iyengar!

  • Moira

    Three words: precision, precision, precision.

  • Sarah

    The focus on alignment and getting to know my body better as a result.

  • Karen

    The brilliant, insightful, well-trained teachers

  • Louise

    Precision, precision, precision!

  • Michael C

    In Iyengar yoga, you are concentrated on several very specific instructions. At some point, with disciplined consistent practice, these instruction become one instruction and you are left with a feeling of integration-equinimity-balance. Asana practice becomes a meditation.

  • After 10 yrs. of laughing at others yoga students; debating over the pros and cons of Iyengar, Bikram, Rodney Yee, and Pattabhi Jois; parading into various yoga studios; critiquing the knowledge of yoga teachers; and gloating at my glorious posture in the mirror; I committed myself to the 2yr Advanced Teacher Training Program of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco.

    Well, a small part of my commitment was attending (for the next two years) a yoga class which would focus on “my posture.”

    First Class: Friday night from 6 – 9:00pm.
    Iyengar Yoga Institute
    27th Ave & Taraval
    San Francisco, CA.

    As I entered the Iyengar Yoga Institute, I was very unsure & nervous. “Can I do this?” “Two years of devoting myself to one thing?” And being that I had not glanced at the curriculum, I pondered over “who is the teacher?”

    As I entered the yoga studio, I nervously set in Virasana. And as I awaited the arrival of the teacher, I glanced around the room. I felt fortunate that there were 6 men in the room. Yet being the only Afro American in the room, I felt insecure. And after viewing the various warm up sequences of the 34 other teachers in training, I realized that my well scripted movie had changed its plot. Things weren’t running as I had planned. And, I contemplated running for the door.

    Yet as my 1st quarter yoga teacher appeared. I was assured that I wasn’t the only Afro American Male practicing yoga. Then, for some reason, I felt my well scripted movie was back on course.

    But it was the 2nd quarter that brought my greatest awakening . . . . .

    16 weeks later, I attended the first day of the 2nd quarter. I had read the curriculum. I understood the protocols. I knew my next yoga teacher’s name. And, I set patiently in Virasana (gloating at my glorious posture).

    Soon following, the 2nd quarter asana teacher appeared & we began the yoga sequence. Upon hearing “utthita trikonasana,” I smiled. Finally, a pose that I could do “perfectly.” A pose that would allow me to shine in my own glory. So, I struck a triangle pose. Yet, as the teacher walked around the room, I knew it. I could feel it. She was coming to “speak with me.” And then, it came out. She said, “What are you doing in the Advanced Teacher Training Program?”

    The room went silent. My breathing stopped. And, as I stood in utthita trikonasana, tears began to roll from my eyes. So quickly, I ran to the bathroom to cry. And as I sat hyperventilating in the bathroom, I yelled out terrible things. At that particular moment, I felt this yoga teacher had ruined my perfectly scripted movie; insulted my glorious yoga pose; and she embarrassed me in front of 34 of my yoga peers. Therefore, I contemplated tiptoeing out of the bathroom and out the backdoor of the yoga studio, Yet, I needed my shoes – the shoes that were in the yoga studio.

    After 10 minutes of hiding, crying, screaming, and crying again, I returned to the yoga studio. I finished the yoga class. And for the next week, I contemplated, “what am I doing in the Advanced Teacher training program?”

    And then came my awakening ..

    I realized that by asking a simple question, my 2nd quarter teacher stopped the filming of my perfect movie. And for a moment, she had removed “my glorious ego” and had restored humility to my life.
    I realized, I was in the advanced teacher training program to learn to stand with integrity and acquire a deeper knowledge of the meaning of Yoga. And in order to stand with integrity and/or practice hatha yoga –

    I had to quit debating over the pros and cons of various yoga styles;
    I had to quit critiquing the knowledge of various yoga teachers.
    I had to quit gloating at my self claimed glorious postures.
    I had to sit quietly and listen closely.

    Well, of the 34 students in the 2yr advanced teacher training program, 7 of us graduated. And now. 6 years later, I still remember that yoga class. I have developed great respect for my second quarter yoga teacher.

    Also, I’ve learned that regardless of which practice of Yoga . . . Laya, Mantra, Nada, Raja, Tantra, Bhakti, Hatha, Jnana, or Karma – Yoga begins with the removal of the perfectly scripted movie – allowing the possibility to see clearly – allowing the possibility to learn.

    Thank you B.K.S. Iyengar,
    Yoga Teacher, Tony Eason

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