The LIGHT that YOGA sheds on life is something special. It is transformative.
It does not just change the way we see things; it transforms the person who sees.
- B.K.S Iyengar
What is Iyengar Yoga?
Iyengar Yoga is based on the teachings of Yoga Master B.K.S. Iyengar and begins with learning the art and science of asanas, or yoga postures. The method of study is orderly and progressive, and the postures are adjusted to meet the physical conditions and needs of each student. An innovative and inspired practice of yoga, the Iyengar method was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar during his long career. Firmly based in the ancient Indian tradition of classical Ashtanga Yoga as defined in Patanjali's The Yoga Sutras, Iyengar Yoga teaches strength and stamina, flexibility and balance, concentration and meditation.
In Iyengar Yoga, the search for a developed consciousness begins with physical awareness. In each posture, every part of the body is acted upon with intent and precision. But Iyengar Yoga goes beyond the physical to embrace emotional and spiritual growth. As students learn to extend awareness to each part of their bodies, they begin to explore the limitless potential of the mind and the soul. The two quests of the physical and the spiritual are not separate, but parts of a complementary approach to self-realization and enlightenment.
Who is B.K.S Iyengar?
Called the "Michelangelo of yoga" and the "king of yogis," named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people, B. K. S. Iyengar is universally acknowledged as the world's greatest yoga teacher. Yogacharya (yoga master) Iyengar is the author of Light on Yoga, considered one of the most authoritative modern yoga texts, and also author of Light on Pranayama, Light on the Yoga Sutras, Tree of Yoga, his memoir, Light on Life, and other exceptional reference works.
When he died at the age of 95 in 2014, B.K.S. Iyengar was seen by many to be yoga's most proficient and knowledgeable practitioner—an inspiration to countless students and yoga practitioners around the globe. During nearly eight years of teaching, he developed an innovative and inspired method of yoga, which is taught under his name. This method is not only one of the world's most widely practiced methods of yoga; its principles are now incorporated into the teaching of yoga under many names and into many other forms of exercise, therapy, and movement. B.K.S. Iyengar’s lifetime of practice leads us through the stages of our lives. What he taught in youth is vital and right for that stage of life and forms an essential base for development; what he taught as an elder gives shape to an evolving understanding of a considered life.
In addition to providing a template of study for those not limited by physical problems, Mr. Iyengaris a pioneer in the therapeutic applications of yoga to the treatment of many medical conditions. Medical professionals in many different disciplines and countries have recognized his expertise and efficacy. His revolutionary use of yoga props and the intelligent selection and modification of the postures themselves enable students of all abilities to work to their greatest potential and overcome difficulties of many kinds. It is perhaps his greatest achievement that B.K.S. Iyengar has made yoga accessible to and relevant for all.
Mr. Iyengar's daughter and son, Geeta and Prashant Iyengar along with his granddaughter, Abhijata teach and refine this constantly evolving method at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India. Teachers and practitioners from all over the world come regularly to hone skills for their own development and to take back to their own Iyengar Yoga communities.
Read about Guruji's life in this Google Arts & Culture feature.
What are the unique features of Iyengar Yoga?
BKS Iyengar teaching Mary Dunn
Iyengar yoga is meant for people of all ages, genders and cuts across geographical, lingual, social and economical barriers.
Importance given to the practice of standing asanas.
The emphasis given to precision and alignment in all postures be it the standing, sitting, twisting, inverted, forward bending, backward bending or supine postures.
The aspect of "timing" where students are taught to stay for longer duration of time in each posture so as to experience it.
The use of props such as wooden gadgets, belts, ropes, chairs, so that the practitioner can strive to achieve perfection in the posture; the practitioner can then learn to perform the posture with the same precision without the props.
The use of props to help the aged, disabled, injured or just plain stiff to perform the classical postures and attain the benefits of the same - something they would never have been able to do independently.
The aspect of "sequencing". An "Iyengar Yoga" teacher is aware of the sequence in which different groups of asanas have to be performed; and how the effect of an asana would vary and be dependent upon the sequence in which the asanas are being performed. (quoted with permission from B.K.S. Iyengar's site: www.bksiyengar.com)
Learn more at the Iyengar Yoga Association of NY.
And the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States.
The Iyengar legacy through Abhijata Iyengar
Abhijata Iyengar has been involved with the practice and philosophy of yoga since she was a child. She started seriously studying yoga from the young age of 16 under the direct guidance of her maternal grandfather, B.K.S. Iyengar, her aunt, Dr. Geeta S. Iyengar and uncle Sri Prashant Iyengar.
Abhijata is one of the most experienced teachers at RIMYI in Pune at the age of 38. She has travelled with B.K.S Iyengar to conventions in Russia and China and also accompanied Geeta to international conventions in England, Australia and the USA. Abhijata has taught Norma several times over the past eight years.
Song of the Soul
I am neither ego nor reason, I am neither mind nor thought,
I cannot be heard nor cast into words, nor by smell nor sight ever caught:
In light and wind I am not found, nor yet in earth and sky -
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.
I have no name, I have no life, I breathe no vital air,
No elements have molded me, no bodily sheath is my lair:
I have no speech, no hands and feet, nor means of evolution -
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss in dissolution.
I cast aside hatred and passion, I conquered delusion and greed;
No touch of pride caressed me, so envy never did breed:
Beyond all faiths, past reach of wealth, past freedom, past desire
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is my attire.
Virtue and vice, or pleasure and pain are not my heritage,
Nor sacred texts, nor offerings, nor prayer, nor pilgrimage:
I am neither food nor eating, nor yet the eater am I -
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.
I have no misgivings of death, no chasms of race divide me,
No parent ever called me child, no bond of birth ever tied me:
I am neither disciple nor master, I have no kin, no friend -
Consciousness and joy am I, and merging in Bliss is my end.
Neither knowable, knowledge, nor knower am I, formless is my form,
I dwell within the senses but they are not my home:
Ever serenely balanced, I am neither free nor bound -
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is where I am found.