An inspirational man who changed my life

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B.K.S Iyengar

Id like to write this article dedicated to the late B.K.S Iyengar, a yogi who inspired me many years ago to start practicing Yoga, due to health problems and bad posture i stand by this man being a massive inspiration to my life and thousands of others, not just with Yoga but along with Positive thoughts, Learning to Love myself and to embrace life…

Here is a little info about this remarkable man and how he practised Yoga not just in his early years but way into his late years before his death in 2014.

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar (14 December 1918 – 20 August 2014), better known as B.K.S. Iyengar, was the founder of the style of yoga known as “Iyengar Yoga” and was considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world.

He was the author of many books on yoga practice and philosophy including Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and Light on Life. Iyengar was one of the earliest students of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who is often referred to as “the father of modern yoga”.

He has been credited with popularizing yoga, first in India and then around the world.

The Indian government awarded Iyengar the Padma Shri in 1991, the Padma Bhushan in 2002 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2014. In 2004, Iyengar was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

Yoga is one of the six systems of Indian philosophy.

The word “yoga” originates from the sanskrit root yuj which means Union. On the spiritual plane, it means union of the Individual Self with the Universal Self. Yoga is the union of the body, mind, emotions and intellect.

The Early Years

B.K.S. Iyengar was born into a poor Sri Vaishnava Iyengar family in Bellur, Karnataka, India. He was the 11th of 13 children (10 of whom survived) born to Sri Krishnamachar, a school teacher, and Sheshamma.

When he was five years old his family moved to Bangalore, and within four years his father died of appendicitis. Iyengar’s home town of Bellur was in the grip of the influenza pandemic at the time of his birth, leaving him sick and weak.

Throughout his childhood, he struggled with malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and general malnutrition. He once wrote, “My arms were thin, my legs were spindly, and my stomach protruded in an ungainly manner, “My head used to hang down, and I had to lift it with great effort.”

At the age of 16, he was introduced to yoga by his Guru Sri T. Krishnamacharya. At the age of 18, he was sent to Pune, Maharashtra by his guru to teach and preach yoga as he knew a little of English. This missed his opportunity to learn a lot about yoga directly from his guru.

B.K.S Iyengar

Teaching Career in Yoga

With the encouragement of Krishnamacharya, Iyengar, aged 18, moved to Pune in 1937 to teach yoga. He spent many hours each day learning and experimenting with various techniques.

He taught yoga to several noted personalities including Jiddu Krishnamurti, Jayaprakash Narayan, and Yehudi Menuhin. He taught sirsasana (head stand) to Elisabeth, Queen of Belgium when she was 80.

Among his other devotees were the novelist Aldous Huxley, the actress Annette Bening and the designer Donna Karan, as well as prominent Indian figures, including the cricket coach Sachin Tendulkar and the Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor.

B.K.S Iyengar

Later Life

B.K.S Iyengar was still practicing yoga at the age of a remarkable 93! It is said that a year before he fell ill he was still doing Head stands for half an hour.

This wonderful man who was full of energy, wisdom and inspiration to thousands of people around the world sadly passed away on the 20th August 2014 in Pune India aged 95.

Institutes

Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) is the heart and soul of Iyengar Yoga. It is the Iyengar Yoga Institute located in Pune, Maharashtra, India. The directors of this institute are Yogacharya BKS Iyengar, his daughter Smt. Geeta and son Sri Prashant Iyengar.

Light on Yoga Research Trust (LOYRT) is a public charitable trust whose prime objective is propagating and research on Iyengar Yoga.

Iyengar Yogashraya was inaugurated in 2001 by Guruji Iyengar in Mumbai. However, this Institute has some of the experienced teachers of Iyengar Yoga. It is run by the Light on Yoga Research Trust.

Youth’s Offerings to Guruji (YOG) was formed in 1996 with only objective of raising funds to propagate Iyengar Yoga. The major activities of YOG include publishing and export of references like books, audios, videos and CD-ROMs to Iyengar Yoga Institutes world-wide. You can contact YOG for purchasing Iyengar Yoga props like belts, bricks, ropes etc.

Bellur Krishnamachar & Seshamma Smaraka Niddhi Trust (BKSSNT) Bellur Krishnamachar & Seshamma Smaraka Niddhi Trust (BKSSNT), was formed with a vision to serve the village Bellur with all the necessities. This will help not only the villagers but also the children of villages near by Bellur.

My personal experience in practicing Yoga

I have never really been one for the gym, I would get bored and it always seemed an effort, back in 1999/2000 i was suffering from depression and struggled to find the energy to walk the dog let alone workout, I would lay awake at night with thoughts racing, Anxiety and Insomnia was becoming a regular daily occurrence.

I did some research on Yoga and that is when i found the amazing B.K.S Iyengar, reading about this remarkable man gave me hope to try something new. I did not have the confidence at the time to go to group classes, so i ordered back then a video to watch and practice at home, I soon realised and felt the benefits from practicing Yoga, my mind felt clearer and more focused, my posture was better, I could have a quiet mind and just be in the moment and relax, Yoga is all about breathing.

Teachers of physical yoga practices encourage students to pay attention to the breath, linking breath to movement, and using this focus to observe oneself and the workings of the mind, such as reactions one may have to a difficult pose. Becoming more aware of the body and mind in practice can help one become more aware of the body and mind in everyday life, which in turn influences our perceptions, experience and overall cognition.

Cultivating this inner-attention in the physical practice then extends to inner-awareness in meditation, which directly influences our brain’s cognition. Research has linked breathing, meditation, yoga and health together, showing how this impact on the mind can then affect the body.

You can be any age to start Yoga, It increases flexibility but most importantly i feel like my mind connects to my body, i’m aware of my emotions and my mind is quiet and peaceful, I have attended Yoga classes in Europe where the groups are completely mixed, Older men and women, I have even experienced Mothers practicing with their young children which fascinated me by their dedication to join in the same way everyone else did with a focused mind.

in our group we were one, some people of any age may have injuries or old injuries and cannot perform the poses, but sometimes even just to lay, in the moment, relaxed with a quiet mind listening to a gentle voice and soft relaxing music and just focusing on the breath, this is just the most amazing experience ever and the most important part of Yoga for me.

Namaste Yogis, Love & Light xxx

Author: Jacqueline Webster  instagram.com/jacquelinemaywebster

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