The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit yuj, which means ‘yoke’ or ‘union’. Practising the postures and breathing with awareness develops harmony, unifying the mind, body and spirit, and helping us to realise our nature. When asked to describe his teaching, B.K.S. Iyengar told Yoga Journal:
“I just try to get the physical body in line with the mental body, the mental body in line with the intellectual body, and the intellectual body with the spiritual body so they are balanced. It’s just pure traditional yoga, from our ancestors, from our gurus, from Patanjali.”
Patanjali – More than 2,500 years ago, Sage Patanjali authored the Yoga Sutras, a written work on the subject of Astanga Yoga, the eight-limbed path towards spiritual fulfillment. A sage and a scholar, he wrote classical texts on Sanskrit grammar and medicine, as well as his Yoga Sutras, the first written statement of yogic philosophy. Before that, yoga followed an oral tradition, passed on personally from teacher to student.
The eight limbs are yama (moral conduct), niyama (personal disciplines), asana (postures), pranayama (control of the breath), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (total absorption). In 196 succinct aphorisms, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe the working of the mind and emotions, and the path to fulfilment. In the first chapter yoga is defined as “the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind”. This famous phrase encapsulates both the practice and the ultimate aim of yoga: the means are just as important as this end.
It is Patanjali’s unique perspective that asanas and pranayama can be a template to explore, evaluate and experience each of the other limbs. Asana can even carry us through to the higher limbs of yoga, including pratyhara, dharana and dhyana, directing practitioners towards Samadhi, the complete freedom at the end of the yogic journey. Iyengar Yoga addresses this journey towards spiritual fulfillment from a perspective which is practical, experiential and intensely personal. Iyengar Yoga begins with ongoing practice of the yoga asanas (postures) with a focus on alignment. In time students learn to penetrate beyond the outer physical layer to the inner kosas (layers) of mind, energy and spirit.
Iyengar Yoga is named for yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar (1918 – 2014). Called the “Michelangelo of yoga” and named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2004, Mr. Iyengar is universally acknowledged as the modern master of yoga. He is universally honored for the depth of his understanding and teaching of the art, science and philosophy of yoga. He is the author of Light on Yoga, the most authoritative modern yoga text, Light on Pranayama, Light on the Yoga Sutras, Tree of Yoga, Light on Life and other exceptional reference works.
B.K.S. Iyengar is acknowledged as yoga’s most proficient and knowledgeable practitioner—an inspiration to countless students and yoga practitioners around the globe. During more than seventy years of teaching, he developed the innovative and inspired method of yoga, which is taught under his name. Iyengar Yoga is not only one of the world’s most widely practiced methods of yoga; its principles are now incorporated into the teaching of yoga under many names as well as into many other forms of exercise, therapy and movement.
Mr. Iyengar is also a pioneer in the therapeutic applications of yoga to the treatment of many medical conditions and physical problems. Medical professionals and research in many disciplines and countries have recognized the efficacy of his method. His revolutionary use of yoga props allows students of all ages and abilities to work to their fullest potential while overcoming limitations. It is perhaps his greatest achievement that B.K.S. Iyengar has made yoga accessible to and relevant for everyone.
To B.K.S. Iyengar, yoga is “meditation in action”. His teaching combines all eight elements in asana practice, which helps us explore and experience the rest. This brings us back into contact with the outside world, awakened by the basic understanding that everything and everyone are interconnected.
Yoga makes a sincere practitioner into an integrated personality,” Mr Iyengar says. “It develops a feeling of oneness between man and nature, between man and man, and between man and his Maker, thus permitting the experience of a feeling of identity with the spirit that pervades all creation. — BKS Iyengar
Geeta S. and Prashant S. Iyengar, Mr. Iyengar’s daughter and son, teach and refine this constantly evolving method at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India. Teachers and practitioners from all over the world come regularly to hone skills for their own development and to take back to their own Iyengar Yoga communities.
Smt. Geeta S. Iyengar is the eldest daughter of B.K.S. Iyengar and one of the world’s leading authorities on yoga in her own right. She mastered the art of yoga at a very young age by observing her father in practice. She is also a graduate in philosophy and a doctor of ayuverdic medicine. She is presently the Director of the Ramamani
Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI). Since beginning teaching in 1962, Geeta-ji has taught thousands of students. Her pioneering work in adapting yoga for every phase of a woman’s life has been explained in her many writings, including the seminal Yoga: A Gem for Women. She is also the author of Yoga in Action: Preliminary & Intermediate Courses.
Sri. Prashant S. Iyengar is the son of B.K.S. Iyengar and one of the world’s most respected yoga and philosophy teachers. He is presently the Director of Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Institute.
Smt. Abhijata Sridhar Iyengar is the grand-daughter of GURUJI BKS Iyengar. She started seriously studying yoga from the young age of 16 under the direct guidance of her maternal grandfather, GURUJI BKS Iyengar, her aunt, Smt Geeta S. Iyengar and uncle Shri Prashant Iyengar. She has a Master’s degree in Bioinformatics from University of Pune, and is now a full-time devoted student as well as a Senior Teacher at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI), – the cradle of Iyengar yoga – located in Pune, India. Abhijata travelled with Guruji to Russia and China. She has accompanied Smt Geeta S Iyengar to International Yoga Conventions in UK, Australia, Germany and USA and She has also taught independently at yoga conventions in France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, the UK and Israel. Abhijata has now grown to be an articulate teacher, with great energy and clarity, and remarkably poised. She is commanding without arrogance. Her teachings combine precise asana instructions with straightforward yoga philosophy, and they are peppered with anecdotes of her grandfather.