August 22, 2014
Issued by: the Iyengar Yoga Association of Canada/Association canadienne de yoga Iyengar (IYAC/ACYI)
With a deep sense of loss, the members of the Iyengar Yoga Association of Canada/
Association Canadienne de yoga Iyengar mark the passing of Yoga Master, BKS Iyengar, on August 20, 2014 in Pune, India, at the age of 95.
BKS Iyengar was acknowledged as the world's greatest living yoga master, until his death this week. He visited Canada several times and had an immense impact on yoga in this country. Today, 250 teachers certified in the rigorous Iyengar method teach across Canada in dozens of communities. Another 100 are currently training to be teachers in this method.
Mr. Iyengar, or Guruji as many called him, was instrumental in bringing yoga to the West. He was named by Time magazine in 2004 as one of the 100 most influential people of the twentieth century. His impact on the world of yoga was immeasurable. He was innovative, creative, energetic, compassionate and challenging. He also adapted classical yoga poses into a therapeutic use, using particular yoga poses and sequences of poses to alleviate injuries and illness.
BKS Iyengar was the author of several books, including Light on Yoga, widely recognized as the ultimate source book on yoga poses and translated into 17 languages. It was first published in 1966 as his influence began to reach the Western World. He taught such luminaries as Yehudi Menuhin and Aldous Huxley, who helped introduce him and his work to the West.
Through numerous other books, articles, interviews, videos, and teaching tours around the world over decades his influence spread to the point where Iyengar yoga is taught today in 72 countries. He continued to travel and teach later in life, most recently visiting and teaching classes in China in 2011.
Although he never alluded to his form of yoga as "Iyengar Yoga," his many thousands of students credited him with the creation of this unique form of practicing and teaching yoga. This method highlights precise alignment and includes the use of props (i.e. blocks, blankets, chairs and straps) to allow people of all ages and abilities to benefit. He emphasized maintaining yoga poses for long periods of time. Yoga practiced in this way demands both will and discipline - which he possessed in abundance. The physical poses were for him primarily a means to foster self-knowledge and create a meditative state while on a spiritual journey.
Mr. Iyengar visited and taught in Canada several times in the 1980's and 1990's, after some Canadians made the journey to his home city of Pune, India. Some senior Canadian Iyengar yoga teachers have traveled to his Institute to continue study with him almost every year for more than 30 years.
Travel from Canada to Pune in the early years was extremely challenging and was motivated by the quality of the teaching BKS Iyengar offered. His kindness, dedication and his own deep constant practice called on these early pioneers of yoga from Canada to return time and time again for the richness of these teachings. They brought their knowledge back to classes in Canada and have enriched many lives, aiding people with physical challenges, emotional discomforts and bringing growth in all dimensions of life.
In recent years, with the growing popularity of yoga around the world and an increased interest in Iyengar yoga, there is a waiting list of 2 years for teachers and advanced students with at least 8 years experience to attend the month long sessions of Iyengar classes in Pune.
One of the joys of attending classes at the Institute was sharing the practice hall with Mr. Iyengar himself, who continued to practice publicly every day until just a few months ago. He would sometimes continue to instruct or adjust students or to teach through his granddaughter, Abhijata Sridhar-Iyengar.
His wife Ramamani predeceased him in the early 1970's and the Institute in Pune is named in her honour - the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (or RIMYI).
Mr. Iyengar leaves behind his daughter Geeta and son Prashant, both master teachers at RIMYI, four other daughters (Vinita, Suchita, Sunita and Savita),and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Iyengar Yoga teachers are recognized as highly trained yoga instructors and practitioners, undergoing rigorous assessments and certification procedures. The Canadian Iyengar association (IYAC/ACYI) oversees this process and ensures that the quality of Iyengar's work is sustained.
The Canadian Iyengar Yoga community joins Iyengar yoga practitioners in over 72 countries in acknowledging the passing of BKS Iyengar with deep gratitude for his life and gifts.
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