BK Iyenger was a very famous yoga teacher who was known across the world for his skills. He died yesterday at 3:15 AM in the morning. He was ninety five years old. His death is a great loss to those who have interest in yoga. We in metaphysics have as special section that is dedicated to yoga. Many of our articles on yoga were inspired by the teachings of BK Iyenger. This article is an attempt from our side to pay due respect to this wonderful yoga teacher and great human being.
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar was the full name of BK Iyenger. He was the founder of a very particular form of yoga that was called the Iyenger Yoga. He was born on 14th December in the year 1918. He was born into a poor but a religious family. He was born in India in a small town called Bellur in Karnataka. His father was a school teacher.
He was the 11th child that was born to their parents. At the time of his birth his village was seriously affected by Influenza. This made him very weak at birth. Apart from being born weak he also suffered from malnutrition as he was from a poor family. At a very young age he suffered from a number of diseases like malaria, typhoid, etc. When he was four years old his family moved to Bangalore for a better life. Within few years of shifting his father died.
Beginnings: As Yoga Student
It was 1934 when BK Iyenger was first introduced to yoga. At that time he was just 15 years old. He was most of the time suffering from ill health. Looking at his condition his brother in law who was also a yoga teacher told him to come to Mysore. As BK Iyenger started to learn yoga he realised that it was indeed improving his health and his stamina. BK Iyenger along with his brother in law would perform yoga in the courts of the king.
BK Iyenger later on admitted that this introduction to yoga was the most important turning point in his life. He considered his brother in law Shri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya as his guru. He was a strict guru. Initially he gave up on BK Iyenger and said that he will not be able to learn yoga. BK Iyenger would do household chores in the house of his guru.
One day Krishnamacharya was very dejected as his favourite student left him. This was the time when he stared to train BK Iyenger. He would not allow BK Iyenger to eat unless he mastered a particular yoga asana. This discipline and strict attitude helped BK Iyenger become a better teacher later on. He stayed in Mysore for two years and then moved to Pune. At this time he was 18 years of age.
Life In Pune
After moving to Pune BK Iyenger kept learning new techniques of yoga. He learnt different forms of yoga. He slowly started to gain popularity. He was a great yoga teacher. He taught yoga to many prominent personalities. Yoga is something that only few can teach well and BK Iyenger was gifted with this skill. His talent as a teacher was noted by many international personalities too. They invited him to come and teach in their countries.
In 1952 BK Iyenger went on his first international trip. He went to London, Paris and Switzerland. Some say that it was BK Iyenger who made the west aware of the many benefits of practicing yoga. In 1966 BK Iyenger published his first book on yoga. The name of this book was “light on yoga”. This book was later translated to 17 languages and it became an international best seller. This was just the beginning. In his lifetime BK Iyenger wrote some 14 books.
In the year 1975 BK Iyenger started the Ramamani Iyenger memorial yoga institute in Pune. This school was in the memory of his life. He was married in 1943 and had 6 children from his wife. In 1984 BK Iyenger stopped teaching yoga officially. At that time he was 75 years. His children continue to teach yoga across the world.
They too are renowned as yoga teachers. In his last interview 5 years back BK Iyenger said that he practices yoga for three hours a day. In a scoter accident he damaged his spine badly. This left him quite disabled. This inspired him to think of ways physically challenged people can do yoga. He had explored many props that can help such people to do yoga.
We hope that this small article will help you to know the life and the achievements of BK Iyenger better. Although he is not among us today but his teachings will inspire us and keep guiding us for years to come.