B. K. S. Iyengar

On 20th August 2014, B. K. S. Iyengar (95), founder of the style of yoga known as “Iyengar Yoga” exhaled for the last time at Pune. Known as Patanjali of our times, Iyengar was one of the foremost Yoga teachers, who not only popularized Yoga in West but also wrote huge literature on yoga practice and philosophy. Enumerated as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2004, Iyengar was given Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shree awards by Government of India. Oxford dictionary defines Iyengar as a known meaning “a type of astanga yoga”. Iyengar published his first book (Light on Yoga) in 1966. The book was international bestseller and was translated into 17 languages and sold 3 million copies.

Innovation: Use of Props

B.K.S. Iyengar is known to have integrated the eight aspects of astanga yoga. This is known as ‘Iyengar’s Yoga’. This yoga is a form of Hathyoga and gives primacy to the Physical alignment of the body in poses. There is a correct way to do each pose and every student is able to attain perfect pose only via consistent practice. This balance achieved by the body reflects in the mind.

Props

The chief objective of a student of Iyengar Yoga is to attain a perfect balance in various poses. BKS Iyengar innovated by inventing a range of props (such as blankets, blocks, straps, pillows, chairs) to facilitate gradual mastery of complex postures. This use of props was able to bring access to yoga to ordinary people. Iyengar advocated the use of props till the body becomes flexible enough to sustain a complex pose and the prop is no longer needed. Thus, props are used to adapt the body to the correct alignment.

Iyengar – the Guru who integrated eight aspects of Ashtanga Yoga

There are eight limbs of ashtanga yoga viz. yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. The Iyengar Yoga is an innovative approach to classical yoga, which is deeply rooted in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. However, whereas Patanjali devised the ashtanga yoga to depict an ascending progression through eight limbs of Yoga, Iyengar sought to integrate all eight limbs into one practice. Iyengar engineered a method of Yoga in which via the physical practice of yoga postures, a student is able to explore the highest stages of the Patanjali’s ashtang yoga. This is why, it is rightly said that Iyengar integrated the eight aspects of astanga yoga.

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