This photo series captures the final images of BKS Iyengar’s practice before he passed in August last year at age 95. It’s a captivating peek into his daily practice, which he famously kept up into his 90s.
Guruji, as he is fondly referred to, was known for overcoming disease at a young age, suffering from several illnesses including malaria, tuberculosis, and typhoid. He was introduced to yoga by his brother-in-law Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who we know as the godfather of modern yoga (he also taught Pattabhi Jois). After healing himself through yoga practice, Iyengar developed his own style involving various props and apparatus to meet the needs of the practitioner, which has become a beneficial form of therapy for students living with ailments or physical conditions.
Photographer Aditya Kapoor visited the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute last July.
“When I reached his institute in Pune, I realised that everyone called him Guruji,” remembered Kapoor who had been assigned the job to update a book by Iyengar (The Path to Holistic Health) out of the many he had already published. “And after a few days I started doing that too. Once he started performing his yoga asanas, it was unbelievable: I have not seen people my age do the exercises he was pulling off,” said Kapoor. “And you could tell he was enjoying it: at certain times when people would applaud, he would crack a rare smile, and it was beautiful.” Not many people know that this grumpy-looking man with bushy eyebrows actually had a good sense of humour, he added.
It was to be the final photo shoot before Guruji passed on August 20, 2014.
“This was my last chance to photograph this legend. And he knew this was his last chance to do one final session. So he stretched his boundaries, only for me — at least that’s what his patrons told me. Soon after I heard he was in hospital and he passed away.”
See all of the photos here.
all images credit: Aditya Kapoor from DK books for the Iyengar Institute
- Jake Clennell on Filming BKS Iyengar: ‘I have never in my life seen such an expression of love and devotion.’
- My Journey with Guruji: Lessons and Reflections From 40 Years of Practice with B.K.S. Iyengar – by Bobby Clennell
- What is Iyengar’s Legacy, and What is Ours?
- 18 Great Quotes to Live By From BKS Iyengar