“I offer my experiences in the hope that with faith, love, persistence, and perseverance you will savour the sweet flavor of yoga.”1

Yoga master B.K.S (Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja) Iyengar was born in Bellur, a village in the south of India, on December 14, 1918. For health reasons he began practicing yoga at age 16. Later, his teacher and guru, Shriman T. Krishnamacharya, sent him to Pune near Bombay (Mumbai) to teach and promote yoga. So he settled in Pune, started a family, and in 1975 opened his own yoga school, the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Institute, named in memory of his wife who had died two years earlier.

In 1952 he met the great violinist Yehudi Menuhin, an encounter that would alter the course of his life. Menuhin became his pupil and invited Iyengar to Switzerland and then to London. This was the first in a long series of trips and stays in Europe and the United States where he taught and promoted yoga. As a result, Iyengar’s reputation spread throughout the West.

B.K.S. Iyengar devoted his life to the study and intense practice of yoga based on the principles laid out by Lord Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Iyengar sought to make these principles more accessible and went about adapting and updating them to address the needs of contemporary society. He defined yoga as an “Art, Science, and Philosophy.” He continued this quest tirelessly for more than 75 years, practicing and experimenting with the effects of yoga on the body and mind. With diligence and integrity he shared his insights with his disciples and teachers around the globe. He also left a vast and rich legacy through his writings (14 books published), including his well-known trilogy: Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama, and Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. These seminal works serve as an invaluable source of information for all yoga practitioners and are indispensable tools for training teachers of the Iyengar method.

B.K.S. Iyengar also encouraged his disciples to form associations in their home countries, organize certification programs, and provide continuing education for teachers. He was eager to promote his method—with its blend of traditional and modern elements—and ensure its authenticity and the quality of teaching offered. In Canada we have our own association founded in 1993.

B.K.S Iyengar played a prominent role in the introduction of yoga to the West. In 2004, Times magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Up until the end of his life on August 20, 2014 he served as a shining example of an exemplary human being and teacher. His life’s work lives on through his students and in their practice.

“I would like to practice yoga until my last breath, as a humble service to yoga. My only wish is to prostrate before God, surrendering my last breath in a yogic posture.” 2

  • Iyengar, B.K.S. Light on Life. USA: Rodale Press Inc., 2005.
  • Iyengar, B.K.S. Yoga Wisdom and Practice. New York: DK Publishing, 2009.