He got his first yoga lesson in Mysore

Learnt yoga from Krishnamacharya; was Pattabhi Jois' contemporary
Last Updated 20 August 2014, 19:51 IST

B K S Iyengar, the renowned yoga guru who passed away in Pune, Maharashtra, in the early hours of Wednesday, was introduced to yoga in Mysore.

A contemporary of the equally renowned yoga exponent, the late K Pattabhi Jois from the city, Iyengar had started practising yoga as a teenager during the princely rule between 1933 and 1935, before carving a niche of his own at Pune.

Recalling what he had gleaned from his grandfather, R Sharat Jois, grandson of Pattabhi, said, “Pattabhi was already practising Ashtanga (traditional) yoga under Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, the doyen of yoga and the brother-in-law of Iyengar (Krishnamacharya was married to Iyengar’s elder sister), in 1933, when Iyengar came down to Mysore. He was around 15, and four years younger to Pattabhi, but the age difference didn’t come in the way of their friendship that lasted till the end.”

According to available history, Mysore was then under the princely rule with Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar as the king. On the maharaja’s invitation, Krishnamacharya taught yogasana at Jaganmohan Palace, along with Iyengar and Pattabhi. They, along with Mahadev Bhat and Keshavmurthy who were the other students, had demonstrated yogasana before the maharaja.

Yoga to treat TB

A native of Kolar, Iyengar was ailing from tuberculosis when he first arrived in Mysore.

Iyengar lived with his sister’s family in Vidyaranyapuram here at that time. He then took up yoga to get rid of the ailment. Having known a smattering of English, opportunity came in the form of Deccan Gymkhana in Pune, where they wanted Iyengar to teach yogasana.

Krishnamarcharya, who was very keen on spreading the knowledge of yoga, advised Iyengar to take up the job, and from then on, there was no looking back. Later, Iyengar founded his own yoga institute in Pune and also popularised the Iyengar style of yoga, a shift from Ashtanga Yoga.

Whenever Iyengar visited Mysore, he used to make it a point to visit his friend Pattabhi. Six years ago, when Pattabhi couldn’t make it to the 90th birthday celebrations of Iyengar, Sharat had represented his grandfather. When Pattabhi passed away in 2009, Iyengar couldn’t make it to the funeral and had expressed his condolences over the phone.

Love for animals

Iyengar had adopted tiger Brahma and tigress Amulya of Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens for life-time, by paying Rs 23.20 lakh towards the animal adoption scheme, said Sharat who had met him at the occasion.

Shivanna, the manager of the Zoo, told Deccan Herald a week ago that Iyengar had recently adopted Vayuputra and Mruthyunjaya, cubs of tigress Manya, by sending a cheque for Rs two lakh (Rs one lakh for each cub), through his daughter.

He had adopted tiger cubs Pragna and Jyothi for a period of one year from August 17, 2013, to August 16, 2014. He had also adopted three cubs of a hunting cheetah, that died later. It was due to his unending love for animals and the passion to adopt them that the Mysore Zoo authorities proudly called him the ‘Adoption Guru’.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has condoled the death of­ B K S Iyengar. The chief minister, in his statement, said that BKS Iyengar reminded the world that yoga was not only good for physical health, but also for mental peace.

(Published 20 August 2014, 19:51 IST)

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