The power of yoga

Iyengar used to spend five hours learning yoga asanas

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, the legendary teacher who took yoga to the West, lived up to his credo — live a full life happily and die gloriously.

His most famous pupil was to be the peerless violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who told him that he had just five minutes to spare as he was very tired.

The master, who had taught Hatha yoga to the famous philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurthi, put the violin maestro in a relaxing asana that put him to sleep.

On waking, Menuhin spent five hours learning yoga asanas, which he said made him a better violinist, too.

B.K.S. Iyengar’s remarkable journey to fame began rather unremarkably — with the yoga teacher being thrown out of the Deccan Gymkhana Club in Pune by jealous contemporaries.

Dealing with the prejudices of the West in the Fifties for a “fierce-looking man” was never going to be easy.

That Iyengar didn’t just manage that while remaining Menuhin’s guest and Aldous Huxley’s tutor, but convinced the world that yoga was good for mental, physical and spiritual health is the mark of a genuis who believed in himself, his subject and taught it to others not to make money, although he subsisted on tuition fees, but to spread the message as it were.

Yoga may not be the panacea for all ills and every health issue, as is sometimes made out by its newfangled forms, including the Bikram yoga practised at sweltering temperatures these days.

However, as the strict taskmaster explained as he grew older, therapeutic yoga is essentially a quest for the spark of divinity in all of us.

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