The self exploration journey called yoga

The self exploration journey called yoga

Iyengar with his son Prashant and daughter Geeta. Photo Credit:

The 100th birth anniversary celebrations of world-renowned yogasana guru Dr BKS Iyengar are coming to a conclusion. But the legend of Bellur-born Iyengar will surely continue for a long time.

December 14, 2018, marked the centenary anniversary of the man who developed his own yoga system that is popularly known across in the world as Iyengar yoga. He passed away on August 20, 2014.

In an event at the Bangalore Gayana Samaja here on Saturday evening, rich tributes were paid to Iyengar. His discipline in mastering yoga and the way he developed his own system by using aspects of Patanjali Sutra and Ashtanga Yoga were highlighted. He was a very strict teacher, but equally humble and gentle outside it.

In a short documentary to highlight his achievements as a yoga guru, Iyengar explained the reason he took up yoga.

“My aim in taking up yoga was to get rid of tuberculosis,” he had said in an old interview.

However, Iyengar is quick to add that yoga is not to be taken casually. He goes on to add that that the benefits of casual practice will not be that great.

“Yoga is a disciplinary subject and cannot be practiced casually. Casual attempt brings casual understanding and casual effect.

“It is a science that makes one associate the body and mind. I started practicing to bring alignment of the joints and the muscles. Asanas have to be presented in a measured form. People realised that the body has to be balanced to the level of the mind.”

In the documentary, his son Prashant Iyengar talked of BKS Iyengar’s dedication despite living a simple and humble life. “We had only two rooms and there were six children. One room was for practice. My father was totally dedicated to yoga, while mother took care of the family,” he recalled.

In another old video, his daughter Geeta Iyengar, who passed away recently, said: “Our mother used to see him practicing and putting in all efforts to achieve and master something. He never gave up and was a man who really wanted to do and know something.”

Prashant Iyengar, who was present during the occasion, explained in detail the meaning of yogasana and yoga, which means union with God. While stressing on the broader meaning of yoga, he also explained that this ancient and highly scientific practice is all about knowing and understanding one’s own body.

“Asanas will teach you some esoteric aspects of life, though peripheral,” he explained.

“I will do yoga for knowing myself and you will do yoga for knowing yourself. In asana, you should do something on you, with your body and for yourself. It is self inquiry,” he added.

“Why do we say that one must shoulder responsibilities? The shoulder is holding up the crankiest part of the body, the brain. It must be very responsible,” he said in jest.

“When we say someone is crestfallen, the person is sad. The crest is the bone or sternum. If anybody has droopy shoulders, it means that the sternum caving in. Yogasana teachers will tell you to expand your chest and lift the sternum. Lifting the sternum gives more positivity.

“In the same way, a teacher will ask you to bring the shoulder blades (located at the back of the upper body) closer. It gives the practitioner alertness,” he stated.

Such was the intensity of BKS Iyengar’s devotion to his practice and trying to take yoga to the common man that his family found it difficult to understand him.

“When he did yoga, it was constant self exploration,” Prashant Iyengar had said at another event at the Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs here recently.

“His children can never know him and his students can never know him. When Guruji was in his core practice, he was nobody to nobody nor was anybody anybody to him.

“We wanted solutions for physical problems and that was given by him,” he remarked.