As mentioned on the Home Page, 2018 marks the centenary celebration of BKS Iyengar. On Dec 14th, he would have been 100 years old, and though it seems that only those who knew him or who practice “Iyengar Yoga” specifically might be the only ones needing to celebrate, I might urge everyone who practices yoga today to reflect on their practice and what influences have effected their experience on the mat and off…you just might find a thread of Iyengar running somewhere beneath.
Have you been to a yoga class with other people in it? Or maybe you are a woman? In this day and age of mega classes and a dominance of women teachers, it might be hard to believe that there was a time of yoga only taught one-on-one and male dominated. Because of his young age, Iyengar was sent by Krishnamacharya to teach women’s classes at a time this was unheard of and was actually ridiculed for it. But thanks to his perseverance and ultimately the commitment of his daughter, Geeta, to the subject as well, we celebrate a world where women’s classes for all stages of a woman’s life are honored and demanded!
Maybe you have used a block, a strap, a bolster, a wall, or any prop for that matter in your yoga practice? Or maybe you have tried Aero Yoga, swing yoga, or suspension on silks, the “modern” versions of the Iyengar invented Yoga Karunta, yoga on the rope wall? In his lifetime of almost 80 years of practice and teaching, BKS Iyengar encountered every possible body type and background. From this experience and observation, his goal was to make this universal practice of yoga LITERALLY universal to all who might be interested. It is because of BKS Iyengar that ANY BODY and EVERY BODY can be used as a tool for self reflection and enlightenment no matter who they are and where they come from.
Two other hallmarks of Iyengar Yoga are more unique to much of modern yoga practiced today, but are definitely worth celebrating – timing and sequencing! Iyengar Yoga classes have the aim of teaching you how to practice and giving you the tools to make the physical practice of asana the “meditation in motion” it was meant to be. In order to still the fluctuations of the mind, we must ultimately still the body and also not disrupt the natural rhythms of the self. In holding poses longer, we start to become sensitive and aware of the self within the body and reach a point of contact with the mind and emotions. And, a well thought out sequence will not only facilitate learning for a practitioner, but connect the individual with the rhythms of their own self in relation to the world around them.
Because of all of the above reasons, it continues to amaze me that I regularly meet very dedicated practitioners of yoga who have never heard of BKS Iyengar. So far, in modern history, there is only one person who has spent a literal lifetime committed and dedicated to this vast and amazing practice we all love, left a legacy of writing and methodology that could fill a few more lifetimes, and lit sparks of practice and teaching all around the world…whether we practice “Iyengar Yoga” or not, isn’t that alone something worth celebrating??