Yogacharya BKS Iyengar (1918-2014) is the foremost master who brought yoga to the Western World in the 1960s.
Born to a very modest family, one of the 10 surviving children of the 13 born to his parents, BKS Iyengar was a sickly child. He suffered from malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis and malnutrition. His father died when he was nine years old. He was sent to live and study with his brother-in-law Tirumalai Krishnamacharya at the age of 15, so that he could improve his health through the practice of yoga asanas. He started teaching yoga at the age of 18 and continued until a few weeks before his death, nearly 80 years later.
His meeting with world famous violonist Yehudi Menuhin in 1954 changed Mr Iyengar’s destiny: Menuhin was interested in yoga and came to believe that Mr Iyengar’s teachings improved his violon playing. On Menuhin’s invitation, Mr. Iyengar came to London, England, and Geneva, Switzerland, where he gave public demonstration of yoga, and progressively gained a following that included Aldous Huxley and Elizabeth, the Queen of Belgium, who at the age of 80 years old was doing headstands.
In 1966, he published what became the yoga bible: “Light on Yoga”, an international best sellers, translated in several languages. He was named in 2005 by Times magazine of the 100 most influential persons of the XX Century.
Everyone who met BKS Iyengar speaks of his penetrating intelligence, kindness, absolute dedication to yoga. Until a few weeks before his death in 2014 at the age of 95, he practiced daily in his institute in Pune, India, along visiting students. He is to yoga what Einstein is to physics: he moved yoga from the domain of secrecy to make it accessible to the wider public across the world.