Hyderabad: With the passing away of yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar on Wednesday, the world lost a legend.
It was Iyengar, along with Pattabhi Jois (disciples of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, the father of modern yoga), who took yoga to the West. Iyengar Yoga, as his style is popularly known, is one of the most sought-after wellness schools in the US. That’s why in 2004, the Time magazine even named him one of the most influential people alive.
City-based yoga teacher Pratibha Agarwal tells us what made Iyengar’s yoga so immensely popular: “He introduced props to yoga chairs, blocks and straps (ropes). This made yoga possible for people who had health issues like knee pain, muscular problems or obesity, who earlier could not try it.”
Agrees another yoga instructor K. Latika: “Guru Iyengar revolutionised yoga and made it accessible to people of all age groups, even pregnant women. His usage of a wide variety of props, from rope to cushions to even the wall, helped people understand their bodies better.”
Iyengar introduced props for a very specific purpose to attain the right alignment of postures, which is one of the “musts of yoga”, as mentioned in the encyclopedia of yoga, Yoga Sutra. It reads Sthira, Sukham and Asanam (achieve steadiness and happiness in your posture).
“So, if a person can’t stretch, a rope can help him or her do that. This also saves a lot of muscular energy. Because if you don’t get your postures right, that’s not yoga. It’s just any workout,” asserts Pratibha.
Iyengar not only made yoga accessible, he introduced the world to the text of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. G. Chan-drakath, a traditional yoga teacher, says, “The writings in Yoga Sutras were not descriptive. So Iyengar translated it in English and elaborated what was already written in his book Yoga of Light. Honestly, this book taught the world what yoga was. It’s a mammoth contribution.” The 1966-book is referred as the “Bible of Yoga” in the West.