Iyengar® Yoga

B.K.S. Iyengar first learned Yoga as an apprentice to Sri Krishnamacharya. He was inspired by the classical Yoga system tracing back to Patanjali, an Indian sage thought to have lived sometime between the fifth and second centuries BC. In his Yoga Sutra, Patanjali codified Yoga into 196 aphorisms (yoga sutras) and described an eight-limb path to the ultimate goal of Yoga. These eight limbs are sometimes called the ‘pillars of Yoga’:

  • Yama (moral and social discipline, conduct with others)
  • Niyama (personal discipline, conduct with oneself)
  • Asana (discipline of the body, physical postures)
  • Pranayama (discipline of the mind, control and deepening of breathing)
  • Pratyahara (discipline of the senses, reabsorption of the senses)
  • Dharana (concentration)
  • Dhyâna (meditation)
  • Samadhi (union with the divine, state of supreme consciousness)

The Yoga method developed by B.K.S. Iyengar focuses primarily on Asana and Pranayama, but the other limbs of the path are woven into the practice. Iyengar Yoga places particular emphasis on very precise postural alignment, so that strength and flexibility are developed in harmony, and energy can move fluidly throughout the body. The use of props (bricks, belts, blankets, etc.) guides practitioners so that they can feel and receive the many benefits of the postures, and practice them with maximal precision and respect for the body.
Iyengar Yoga is taught around the world, and instructors undergo rigorous training and assessments to obtain certification.

BKS-Iyengar-Padmasana

Who is B.K.S. Iyengar?

B.K.S. Iyengar was born in Bellur (Karnataka, India) in 1918. His childhood was plagued by material hardship, malnutrition, and disease (malaria, typhoid, and tuberculosis). As a sickly youth, at the age of 15, he was taken under the wing of his brother-in-law, the yogi Sri Krishnamacharya. Young Iyengar devoted himself body and soul to the practice he discovered with his guru, restoring his health and vitality.

In 1937, when B.K.S. Iyengar was just 18 years old, Krishnamacharya sent him to Pune, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, to spread the teaching of Yoga. There, Iyengar founded the Ramamani Iyengar Yoga Memorial Institute, where he practiced and taught until the end of his life. At this school, and through frequent trips abroad, particularly in the West, he taught a style of Yoga anchored in ancient tradition and refined by his acute observations from a lifetime of rigourous practice.

B.K.S. Iyengar passed away in 2014 at the age of 96. Over the course of his long life, thanks largely to the generosity of his teaching, he saw Yoga become a household name. His techniques were embraced by millions, improving lives not just in India, but around the world. Today, the teaching that was his life’s work is carried on by his descendants and teachers around the world certified by him, his Institute, and national federations (www.yoga-iyengar.asso.fr), in faithfulness and respect to the Master and his work.

“Extension creates space. Space creates liberty. Liberty is the source of precision. Precision is truth, and truth is God.”

Bibliography

BKS IYENGAR

Light on Yoga (ed. Harper Collins)
A detailed guide for the practice of Yoga

Tree of Yoga (ed : Harper Collins)
On the philosophy of Yoga and the author’s experience. Excellent introduction to Yoga.

Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health (ed. Darling Kindersley)
A guide to Yoga with detailed sequences and large color photos.

Yoga for Sports (ed. Westland)
A guide on the use of Yoga for athletes to improve agility, strength, and concentration, while avoiding injury and limiting wear on the body.

Light on Pranayama (ed: Crossroad Publishing Company)
A detailed guide on various breathing exercises, for advanced practitioners.

GEETA IYENGAR

Yoga: A Gem for Women (ed. Timeless Books)
A practical guide on the benefits of Yoga throughout the different stages and challenges in the life of a woman.

Iyengar Yoga for Motherhood: Safe Practice for Expecting and New Mothers (ed. Sterling/Penn)
A quide for Yoga practice through each trimester of pregnancy and after delivery.

“The Practice of Women During the Whole Month”
Publication by the Iyengar Yoga Association of Great Britain, on women’s practice adapted to the menstrual cycle.

Yoga in Action–Initiation Course (in French)
Available at www.yoga-iyengar.asso.fr

Yoga in Action–Intermediate Course-1 (in Engish)

FILMS AND FURTHER READING

FILMS

“Le souffle des Dieux” 
A French film exploring the origins of modern Yoga, including an interview of B.K.S. Iyengar and scenes of him teaching at his Institute. www.jupiter-films.com

“Breathe: Yoga Saved My Life” 
Left paralyzed by spinal surgery, a man discovers Yoga as a path to healing. His inner journey also opens him to the world and to stories of others who have been saved by Yoga. www.upsidedistribution.com

 

BOOKS

Contémplation du héro : Art et pratique du yoga by Christian Pisano (ed. Almara)
An exploration of Yoga from the perspective of non-dual Kashmir Shaivism and the teaching of B.K.S. Iyengar. Drawn from Pisano’s years studying alongside Iyengar in Pune and his vast readings as a scholar of philosophy.

 

WEBSITES