Dec 14th, 1918 – Aug 20th, 2014
BKS Iyengar, was born in the village of Bellur, Karnataka, India, on 14th December 1918 and passed away on 20th August 2014, in Pune-India.
Throughout his childhood, he suffered a number of illnesses, including malaria and tuberculosis.
At about the age of 16, he was sent to live with his sister in Mysore, who was married to a great Yogi, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, there he was initiated in the path of Asthãnga yoga.
Two years later, he was sent to teach in Pune, where he lived and taught with his son Prashant and daughter Geetaji Iyengar, until his passing on August 20th, 2014.
Mr. Iyengar is considered one of the most important yoga teachers in the world. He made yoga accessible to all. The introduction of “props”(chair, bricks, belts, etc.) in a yoga class, helped people who couldn’t otherwise be able to practice yoga.
Iyengar yoga is renowned for the attention to detail, alignment, and accuracy on the performance of the Asanas.
At the beginning of each class we sing the sloka in honour of the sage Patanjali, listen to BKS Iyengar singing the sloka.
The Patanjali Sloka
Tribute is made to Patanjali in this sloka (verse) written by the poet and grammarian Bhartrihari in about the 7th century A.D. It has been adopted as a standard beginning to many Iyengar Yoga classes.
Yogena cittasya padena vacam
Through Yoga, serenity of mind,
Malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena
Through Grammar, clarity of speech,
Yopa karottam pravaram muninam
Through Medicine, purity of body,
Patanjalim pranjalir anato’smi
Patanjali, I honour you.
Abahu purusa karam
Whose upper body has a human form,
Sankha cakrasi dharinam
Who holds a conch and discus,
Sahasra sirasam svetam
Who is crowned by a thousand headed cobra,
I salute the sage and scholar Patanjali.
The first half of the sloka is from Sushruta, an authority on Ayurveda. The second half describes Patanjali’s symbolic form:
- the seven-headed serpent represents infinity,
- the conch calls us to Yoga practice,
- the disc symbolizes the wheel of time and the law of cause and effect.
In reciting the sloka, respect is paid to the three aspects of Patanjali’s work: Yoga, grammar and medicine, and to Patanjali himself.
Sloka to Guruji
Guru Brahma Gurur Vishnu
Guru Devo Maheshwaraha
Guru Saakshat Para Brahma
Tasmai Sree Gurave Namaha
Guru is verily the representative of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
He creates, sustains knowledge and destroys the weeds of ignorance.
I salute such a Guru.
Only certified Iyengar Yoga teachers are permitted to use the “Iyengar Yoga” certification mark! It is a sign of excellence, clarity, and depth of understanding of the art, science, and philosophy of yoga.