Some people have worked towards their accomplishments throughout their entire life and left behind a trail that no one can ever forget. BKS Iyengar is one such wonderful person. Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar was born on December 14, 1918 in Bellur, Kolar district. At the time of his birth, since his mother Sheshamma was unwell, BKS was born along with a heap sack of sickness. BKS himself has told that his arms were thin, legs were spindly, his head used to hang down and he used to lift his neck with great effort. The Spanish flu was spread everywhere in the Kolar. He belonged to a poor family. His father Krishnamachar was a school teacher. His family moved to Bangalore. As an ill fate, when BKS was 9 years old, he lost his father! When BKS turned 16 years old, his relative Sri Thirumale Krishnamacharya invited him to Mysore. There, not only he suggested BKS the idea of improving his health through the practise of yoga, he became his guru and taught him some asanas. BKS considers this as a turning point in his life. After two years, as per his Guru Krishnamacharya’s instructions, BKS went to Pune for yoga training and to promote the teaching of Yoga. In those days, BKS used to practise yoga for 10 hours every day. In just a few years, BKS understood the depth and details of each Asana and emerged as an outstanding yoga teacher. Many people including famous philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurthy and freedom fighter Jayaprakash Narayan, have been trained in yoga under his guidance.
In 1952, Iyengar met the famous American violinist Yehudi Menuhin in Pune. He drew Menhin’s attention towards yoga in just a few hours and this achievement of his is admirable. From here BKS’s international journey started. His transformation work towards offering yoga to the entire world continued uninterrupted. He conducted yoga classes and delivered speeches in foreign countries. He called his method of yoga practice as Iyengar Yoga style. In 1966 BKS published his first book, “Light on Yoga”. It has been translated into 22 languages worldwide. By 1975, he opened his own yoga institute, Ramani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute. Ramamani is the wife of BKS. His wife died untimely in 1973. BKS who had been actively practising Yoga until 1984, took official retirement from teaching, but continued to take some special training classes, delivering speeches and was involved in writing books.
Even in his 90s, BKS has given trainings and speeches in big yoga platforms in Moscow, China and this marvellous legacy lies with him. The books written by BKS regarding Yoga, Pranayama and life are as follows: Light on Pranayama, The Art of Yoga, The Tree of Yoga, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom, Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, Astadala Yogamala: Collected Works (8 vols), Yoga Wisdom and Practice, Yaugika Manas: Know and Realize the Yogic Mind, Core of the Yoga Sutras: The Definitive Guide to the Philosophy of Yoga. In recognition of his achievements, India has honoured him with the Padma Shri award in 1991 and the Padma Bhushan award was felicitated in 2002.
In 1998, The American Biographical Institute of America, honoured him with the “Person of the Year” award. He was also honoured as the “Person of the year” in 1998 by the International Biographical Centre of England, Cambridge. In 2000, he was honoured with the “Hall of Fame” award by International Publishing Centre. In 2004, Iyengar was named as one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine, America. . Yogacharya BKS Iyengar is the recipient of many more National and International awards. BKS led a fulfilling life of 95 years and died on 20 August 2014 in Pune.