Yoga as taught by B.K.S. Iyengar emphasizes the integration of body, mind and spirit. The Iyengar approach to yoga is firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as expounded by Patanjali in his classic treatise, The Yoga Sutras. Iyengar yoga emphasizes the development of strength, stamina, flexibility and balance, as well as concentration (Dharana) and meditation (Dhyana).
Students are encouraged to develop their own home practice; without one, the study of yoga is incomplete.Iyengar yoga may differ from other yoga classes in a number of ways:
- Most classes begin with a chant to honor Patanjali, the sage who compiled the classic yoga texts.
- Time is spent on the development and proper alignment of each asana. Precisely guided verbal instruction and visual demonstration helps reinforce the relationship of all parts of the body to the asana, and the asana to the breath and yoga philosophy. Sometimes, poses are held for longer periods of time, and fewer asanas may covered in one class period than in a vinyasa or other ashtanga classes.
- Certified Iyengar teachers are trained to modify the classic asanas (yoga postures) for individual students. Often, modifications include the use of props such as blocks, blankets and belts. Props can allow for a deeper understanding of the posture and comfort level.
- Iyengar teachers request that you wear clothes that are stretchy, comfortable and form fitting. When the teacher can see your ankles and knees, she/he can see the alignment of your body. Shorts and tights are the best options. Sweat pants or flared yoga pants are not ideal for Iyengar yoga.
- Water bottles are not permitted in the practice area of the studio. Please come to class well hydrated.
A Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher can guide students of all ages and physical conditions to an experience of yoga, which is safe, accessible and rewarding. Students of Iyengar Yoga begin with elementary postures and with an emphasis on the standing asanas (postures). In time, other postures are added, including forward bends and back bends, twists, inversions and restorative poses. Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Balance) is introduced as soon as students are ready because of its many therapeutic benefits. Each class ends with Savasana, corpse pose or deep relaxation. Students learn to rest in a profound way, completely releasing the body while drawing the mind towards the peace within. As the student progresses, Pranayama (the control of the breath) is introduced.Certified Iyengar Yoga instructors are held to an unusually rigorous standard. Only after years of training and evaluation do they become certified. Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers devise sequences of poses, which build skill and understanding, from posture to posture, and from class to class. They use their deep-seated knowledge of the asanas and anatomy to individualize corrections for each student.
B.K.S. Iyengaris one of the world’s most acclaimed yoga masters. His innovative and precise approach to classical hatha yoga has educated generations of people in honing the body’s inherent wisdom through yoga, as informed by Patanjali’s yoga sutras. He has inspired millions of devoted yoga practioners in the process. He is the author of numerous books on yogic practice and philosophy, along with several definitive yoga texts, including the yoga classic Light on Yoga. His teachings, writings, and devoted corps of students and followers have spread the practice of yoga throughout the world. Today there are Certified Iyengar Teachers in 65 countries in the Americas, Africa, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and Asia.
His most popular books include Light on Yoga, which has been published in 18 languages, Light on Pranayama and Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
In 2004 Time Magazine named B.K.S. Iyengar as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He currently teaches with his daughter Geeta and his son Prashant at the Ramamani Iyengar Yoga Institute in Pune, India.
Early Life Sri B.K.S. Iyengar was born into a large and poverty-stricken family on December 14th ,1918 in the Belur district of Karnataka. As an infant he was affected by an influenza epidemic that left him frail and unhealthy. Throughout his childhood, B.K.S. Iyengar experienced much illness, including malaria, tuberculosis and typhoid, as well as chronic malnutrition.
When he turned sixteen, he was sent to Mysore to stay with his eldest sister and her husband, scholar and yogi Sri T. Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya taught yoga in the Palace of the Raja of Mysore. It was in this school that Mr. Iyengar learned the basic asanas of Yoga, which led to a noticeable improvement in his health. In 1937, Krishnamacharya asked him to go to Pune and teach yoga there. There, B.K.S. Iyengar faced great difficulty because of his limited knowledge of the English language and his lack of formal education.
Although he was still developing his fundamental knowledge in the field of yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar applied a forceful dedication to learning by trial and error. Slowly he mastered the difficult postures and his health improved considerably. He developed the use of what are now known as “props” in yoga and he created innovative new techniques to guide students towards the mastery of difficult postures as he himself had done. With time, the number of students attending his yoga classes began to increase, although the monetary compensation remained small.
In 1943, B.K.S. Iyengar was married to his wife Ramamani. Together they had 6 children. She supported him in his studies along with her family of five daughters namely Geeta, Vinita, Suchita, Sunita and Savitha and one son Prashant.
International Recognition Slowly and gradually, B.K.S. Iyengar gained recognition as a yoga teacher in the Indian subcontinent. In 1952 he met the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin. They soon became friends and Menuhin arranged for B.K.S. Iyengar to teach abroad.
The fame of B.K.S. Iyengar expanded, and soon he began writing books on yoga. His first book ‘Light on Yoga’ was published in the year 1966 and went on to become an international bestsellers which is still published in 18 languages. B.K.S. Iyengar opened his own institute in Pune, by the name of ‘Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute’, in the memory of his wife. He still resides and teaches at the institute.
B.K.S. Iyengar continues to teach and advise affairs at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute. In 2004 Time Magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and in 2011 he visited China where his presence was honored by thousands of students, dignitaries, and even a series of postage stamps commemorating his visit. He continues to be actively involved in the promotion of yoga throughout the world. Today, classes at Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute are being conducted today by his daughter Geeta, his son Prashant and other senior teachers.