Yogacharya Sri B.K.S. Iyengar has evolved precise posture (asana) and breathing (pranayama) techniques with a firm philosophical base in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Patanjali lived about 1700 years ago in India. He is credited with texts on Ayurvedic medicine and grammar as well as the yoga sutras, which encapsulate yoga philosophy.
B.K.S. Iyengar brought yoga to the west with his pioneering teaching in the 1970s, the beginning of today’s explosive growth in yoga. His seminal manual Light on Yoga, called “the bible of yoga” has been continuously in print since 1966 and has been the source book for generations of yoga students.
His invention of yoga props — now ubiquitous in yoga studios of all styles — revolutionized the art. Blankets, belts and other devices allow students of all skill levels to work safely in the classical yoga asanas (postures). Mr. Iyengar also revolutionised the therapeutic applications of yoga, gaining recognition for yoga as treatment for serious medical conditions.
Mr. Iyengar continued his daily practice at the RIMYI (Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute) in Pune, India, until shortly before his death at the age of 95 on August 20, 2014. Named after Mr. Iyengar’s late wife, who died shortly before it was completed, the RIMYI is where Mr Iyengar’s daughter, Geeta, and son, Prashant, now the chief teachers of his method, carry on his work. His granddaughter, Abhijata Sridhar Iyengar, also teaches at RIMYI.
The Iyengar system of teaching is methodical and progressive, emphasising detailed correctness and absolute safety. When necessary, it uses supports called ‘props’ that allow students to progress in their practice of postures safely at their own pace to suit their bodies. Beginners work in a basic way on simple postures according to their capabilities. As they develop they then move on to more refined ways of working as well as to more complex postures.