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B. K. S. Iyengar

Indian yoga teacher and scholar
When I stretch, I stretch in such a way that my awareness moves, and a gate of awareness finally opens.

B. K. S. Iyengar or Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar ( December 14, 1918August 20, 2014), was the founder of the style of yoga known as "Iyengar Yoga" and was considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. He has written many books on yoga practice and philosophy including "Light on Yoga", "Light on Pranayama", and "Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali".

QuotesEdit

  • I can remain thoughtfully thoughtless. It is not an empty mind.
    • In: Ellen Barry "B. K. S. Iyengar, Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West, Dies at 95"
  • When I stretch, I stretch in such a way that my awareness moves, and a gate of awareness finally opens.
 
Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one's being, from bodily health to self-realization...
  • Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one's being, from bodily health to self-realization. Yoga means union -- the union of body with consciousness and consciousness with the soul. Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one's actions.
  • When I still find some parts of my body that I have not found before, I tell myself, yes I am progressing scientifically... I don't stretch my body as if it is an object. I do yoga from the self towards the body, not the other way around.
    • In: BBC News "India yoga guru BKS Iyengar dies"
  • The art of teaching is also to know when to stop. It is good when people want to be better, physically, morally, spiritually, intellectually. But a fashion? No! Yoga is a painful art. It’s not like dance or music, where the person watching gets pleasure. Only the person doing it finds joy. It has nothing to do with externals.
 
Asanas keep the body healthy and strong and in harmony with nature.
  • Asanas keep the body healthy and strong and in harmony with nature.

Light on Life: B.K.S. Iyengar's Yoga InsightsEdit

In: Allison Aubrey Light on Life: B.K.S. Iyengar's Yoga Insights, National Public Radio (npr.org), 10 November 2005

  • My poor health was matched, as it often is when one is sick, by my poor mood. A deep melancholy often overtook me, and at times I asked myself whether life was worth the trouble of living.
  • Seeing that the general state of my health was so poor, my brother-in-law recommended a stiff regime of yoga practice to knock me into shape and strengthen me up to face life's trials and challenges as I approached adulthood
  • Physical health is not a commodity to be bargained for. Nor can it be swallowed in the form of drugs and pills — it has to be earned through sweat. It is something that we must build up.
  • Yoga goes beyond the physical motions. The practice of yogasana for the sake of health, to keep fit, or to maintain flexibility is the external practice of yoga.
  • While this is a legitimate place to begin, it is not the end... Even in simple asanas, one is experiencing the three levels of quest: the external quest, which brings firmness of the body; the internal quest, which brings steadiness of intelligence; and the innermost quest, which brings benevolence of spirit.
  • Often, we hear people saying they remain active and light when they do just a little bit of asana practice. When a raw beginner experiences this state of well-being, it is not merely the external or anatomical effects of yoga. It is also about the internal physiological and psychological effects of the practice.

Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate FreedomEdit

B.K.S. Iyengar in: Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom, Rodale, 19 September 2006

  • It took me decades to appreciate the depth and true value of Yoga. Sacred texts supported my discoveries, but it was not that signposted the way. What I learned through yoga, I found out through yoga. I am not however, a “ self made man”. I am only what seventy-two years of devoted yoga sadhana has created out of me. Any contribution I have made to the world has been the fruit of my sadhana.
    • In: P.x
  • Yoga ferried me across the great river from the bank of ignorance to the shore of knowledge and wisdom.
    • In: P.x
 
Patanjali is considered the father of the yoga. On reality as far as we know, he was a yogi and polymath living around the fifth century BC, India, who collated and elaborated knowledge of the yogis’ life and practices. He wrote the Yoga Sutras, lierally a thread of aphorisms about yoga, consciousness and the human condition. Patanjali also explained the relationship between the natural world and the innermost and transcendent soul....What Patanjali said applies to me and will apply to you.
  • Patanjali is considered the father of the yoga. On reality as far as we know, he was a yogi and polymath living around the fifth century BC, India, who collated and elaborated knowledge of the yogis’ life and practices. He wrote the Yoga Sutras, lierally a thread of aphorisms about yoga, consciousness and the human condition. Patanjali also explained the relationship between the natural world and the innermost and transcendent soul....What Patanjali said applies to me and will apply to you.
    • In: P.x-xi
  • Yoga transformed my life from a parasitic one to a life of purpose. Later yoga inspired me to partake in the joy and nobility of life, which I carried to many thousands of people without consideration of religion, caste, gender, or nationality.
    • In: P.xi
  • Yoga was my Destiny, and for the past seventy years, yoga has been my life, a life fused with the practice, philosophy, and teaching of the art of yoga. Like all destinies, like all great adventures, I have gone to places I have imagined before I set out. For me It has been a journey of discovery.
    • In: P.xi
  • I set off in yoga seventy years ago when ridicule, rejection, and outright condemnation were the lot of a seeker through yoga even in its native land of India. Indeed If I had become a sadhu, a mendicant holy man, wandering the great trunk roads of British India, begging bowl in hand, I would have met with less derision and won more respect. At one time I was asked to become a sannyasin and renounce the world, but I declined. I wanted to live as an ordinary householder with all the trials and tribulations of life and to take my yoga practice r to average people who share my life with me the common life of work, marriage and children. I was blessed with all three…
    • In: P.xiii
  • As animals, we walk the earth. As bearers of divine essence, we are among the stars. As human beings, we are caught in the middle, seeking to reconcile the paradox of how to make our way upon earth while striving for something more permanent and more profound.
    • In: P.xiii
  • Yoga, as it was understood by its sages, is designed to satisfy all the human needs in a comprehensive, seamless whole. Its goal is nothing less than to attain the integrity of oneness –oneness with ourselves and as a consequence oneness with all that lies beyond ourselves. We become the harmonious microcosm in the universal microcosm. Oneness, what I call integration, is the foundation for wholeness, inner peace, and ultimate freedom.
    • In: P.xiii
  • Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like you are constantly trying to fit broken pieces together.
    • In: p.xiv
  • Life itself seeks fulfillment as plants seek sunlight. The Universe did not create Life in the hope that the failure of the majority would underscore the success of the few. Spirtiuality atleast, we live in a democracy, an equal opportunity society.
    • In: p.xiv
  • Yoga allows you to find a new kind of freedom that you may not have known even existed.
    • In: p.xiv
  • Yoga allows you to find an inner peace that is not ruffled and riled by the endless stresses and struggles of life.
    • In: p.xv
  • Our flawed mechanisms of perception and thought are not a cause for grief, but an opportunity to evolve, for an internal evolution of consciousness that will also make possible, in a sustainable form, our aspirations toward what we call individual success and global progress.
    • In: p.xv
  • When I set off in yoga, I had no understanding of the greater glory of yoga. I too was seeking its physical benefits, and it was these that saved my life. When I say that yoga saved my life, I am not exaggerating. It was yoga that gave me a new birth with health from illness and firmness from infirmity.
    • In: P.xvii
  • You do not need to seek freedom in a different land, for it exists with your own body, heart, mind, and soul.
    • In: P.xxii
  • There is no progress toward ultimate freedom without transformation, and this is the key issue in all lives.
    • In: p. 5
  • As we explore the soul, it is important to remember that this exploration will take place within nature (the body), for that is where and what we are.
    • In: p. 6
  • We are a little piece of continual change, looking at an infinite quantity of continual change.
    • In: p. 7
  • It is through the alignment of the body that I discovered the alignment of my mind, self, and intelligence.
    • In: p. 8
  • Anything physical is always changing, therefore, its reality is not constant, not eternal. Nature is in this sense like an actor who has only different roles.
    • In: p. 8
  • The compass is ourselves. So we are able to infer that there is a universal reality in ourselves that aligns us with a universal reality that is everywhere.
    • In: p. 8
  • Non-physical reality is called Parusa in Sanskrit or Universal Soul is an abiding reality. It is logical, but remains conceptual to our minds under we experience it’s realization within ourselves.
    • In: p. 9
  • The union of nature and soul removes the veil of ignorance that covers our intelligence.
    • In: p. 9-10
  • Demonstration of one's spiritual realization lies in none other than how one walks among and interacts with one's fellow beings.
    • In: p. 11
  • Nothing can be forced, receptivity is everything.
    • In: p. 12
  • Breath is the vehicle of consciousness and so, by its slow measured observation and distribution, we learn to tug our attention away from external desires toward a judicious, intelligent awareness.
    • In: p. 12
  • If we become aware of its limitations and compulsions, we can transcend them.
    • In: p. 12
  • By drawing our senses of perception inward, we are able to experience the control, silence, and quietness of the mind. This ability to still and gently silence the mind is essential, not only for meditation and the inward journey but also so that the intuitive intelligence can function usefully and in a worthwhile manner in the external world.
    • In: p. 12-13
  • Yoga is about the will, working with intelligence and self-reflexive consciousness, can free us from the inevitability of the wavering mind and outwardly directed senses.
    • In: p. 13
  • True concentration is an unbroken thread of awareness.
    • In: p. 13
  • We often fool ourselves that we are concentrating because we fix our attention on wavering objects
    • In: p. 13
  • Spirituality is not some external goal that one must seek, but a part of the divine core of each of us, which we must reveal… For the yogi, spirit is not separate from body. Spirituality is not ethereal and outside nature but accessible and palpable in our bodies
    • In: p. 18
  • You do not need to seek freedom in some distant land, for it exists within your own body, heart, mind, and soul. Illuminated emancipation, freedom, unalloyed and untainted bliss await you, but you must choose to embark on the Inward Journey to discover it.
    • p.22
  • The physical body is not only a temple for our soul, but the means by which we embark on the inward journey toward the core.
    • In: p. 22
  • When we free ourselves from physical disabilities, emotional disturbances, and mental distractions, we open the gates to our soul.
    • In: p. 22-23
  • The hardness of a diamond is part of its usefulness, but its true value is in the light that shines through it.
    • In: p. 27
  • Health is not to be mistaken for mere existence. It is the balance of the body, mind and self... there rests the mind. If the breath scatters, the mind wanders. If mind wanders, the breath scatters. So still the breath to still the mind. Mind is the king.
    • In: p. 28
  • We think of intelligence and perception as taking place exclusively in our brains, but yoga teaches us that awareness and intelligence must permeate the body. Each part of the body literally has to engulfed by the intelligence. We must create a marriage between the awareness of the body and that of the mind. When two parties do not cooperate, there is unhappiness on both sides.
    • In: p. 28
  • The head is the seat of intelligence. The heart is the seat of emotion. Both have to work in cooperation with the body.
    • In: p. 29
  • Of the two aspects of asana exertion of our body and penetration of our mind is our goal, but in the beginning to set things in motion, there is no substitute for sweat
    • In: p. 45
  • Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.
    • In: p. 48
  • You exist without the feeling of existence, existence has no meaning.
    • In: p. 57
  • You must purge yourself before finding faults in others.
    When you see a mistake in somebody else, try to find if you are making the same mistake.
    This is the way to take judgment and to turn it into improvement.
    Do not look at others' bodies with envy or with superiority.
    All people are born with different constitutions.Never compare with others.
    Each one's capacities are a function of his or her internal strength.Know your capacities and continually improve upon them.
    • In: p. 60
  • Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.
    • In: p. 61
  • All games are meaningless if you do not know the rules.
    • In: p. 83
  • The mind and the breath are the king and queen of human consciousness.
    • In: p. 130
  • Do not aim low, you will miss the mark. Aim high and you will be on a threshold of bliss.
    • In: p. 177

About B.K.S. IyengarEdit

  • I first met him in London in the summer of 1971. That’s what we all called him then, before the name “Guruji” became fashionable. I had been learning Iyengar yoga for nearly a year, and practising every day, but when I met him that was it. I realised he was a spiritual teacher as well as a physical one.
  • I didn’t find him intimidating. Some people did, but I found him inspiring. There’s a clip in a forthcoming film about him in which he says, “See how many students I have in spite of my wild nature?” He did have a wild nature; he was quick, and could be sharp, but I never felt it was a personal thing – it was always so you could understand better what you were doing.
    • Silvia Prescott, in: "My teacher, Mr Iyengar: a former pupil remembers the yoga master"
  • He was extraordinary, a genius; there’s no doubt about it. But his teaching was not for everyone. Different students need different teachers and different teachers find different students. It’s very strange and fascinating.
    • Silvia Prescott, in: "My teacher, Mr Iyengar: a former pupil remembers the yoga master"
  • He has by far had the most profound impact on the global spread of yoga. "Light on Yoga" is the yoga canon of this century. It is the most detailed, systematic and precise book out there about yoga [poses and techniques].
    • Joseph S. Alter in: "Yoga in Modern India: The Body Between Science and Philosophy." quoted in: Stacie Stukin "10 Yogis gather around the guru"
  • I thought my heart was going to explode. I was just overjoyed. A guru puts you in a moment of happiness. There is no love like that. It is just electric.
    • Stacie Stukin in: "10 Yogis gather around the guru"
  • In the west, where supplication to gurus is not the cultural norm, he elicits such a response from a cadre of longtime yoga practitioners. They credit him with changing their lives -- and the face of yoga in the United States.
    • Aida Amirkhanian in: Stacie Stukin 10 Yogis gather around the guru, 10 October 2005
    • when she met the 86-year-old teacher on his arrival in Los Angeles in 2005
  • He began life as a frail and sickly child — but at the ripe age of 87, the yoga master could still stand on his head and hold a conversation at the same time.
    • Allison Aubrey in: "Light on Life': B.K.S. Iyengar's Yoga Insights"
  • In the west, where supplication to gurus is not the cultural norm, he elicits such a response from a cadre of longtime yoga practitioners. They credit him with changing their lives -- and the face of yoga in the United States.
    • Stacie Stukin in: "10 Yogis gather around the guru"
  • In 1966, he published a landmark book explaining 216 yoga postures called "Light on Yoga" which has sold nearly 3 million copies and has been translated into 17 languages.
    • Stacie Stukin in: "10 Yogis gather around the guru"

India yoga guru BKS Iyengar diesEdit

 
He continued to practise - "practice is my feast", he once told a correspondent - in his old age and could still do the sirsasana - or the headstand - for half an hour until last year [2013].

In: India yoga guru BKS Iyengar dies BBC News, 20 August 2014

 
One of yoga's finest teachers, he practised what he called an "art and science" for more than eight decades and ran one of India's top yoga schools in Pune.
  • One of yoga's finest teachers, he practised what he called an "art and science" for more than eight decades and ran one of India's top yoga schools in Pune.
  • He continued to practise - "practice is my feast", he once told a correspondent - in his old age and could still do the sirsasana - or the headstand - for half an hour until last year [2013].
  • Within one minute he had me snoring happily away. But Guruji did warn me: 'Relaxation doesn't mean yoga is a soft option. It's a disciplined subject - a casual attempt only gains casual results'.

B. K. S. Iyengar, Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West, Dies at 95Edit

Ellen Barry in: B. K. S. Iyengar, Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West, Dies at 95 The New York Times, 20 August 2014

  • I set off in yoga 70 years ago when ridicule, rejection and outright condemnation were the lot of a seeker through yoga even in its native land of India,” he wrote. “Indeed, if I had become a sadhu, a mendicant holy man, wandering the great trunk roads of British India, begging bowl in hand, I would have met with less derision and won more respect.”
  • His practice is characterized by long asanas, or postures, that require extraordinary will and discipline.
  • When he was 83, he held one headstand for six minutes, swiveling his legs to the right and the left, and that when he finished, “his shoulder-length hair was awry, he seemed physically depleted,” but he wore the smile of a gleeful child.
    • A reporter who watched his daily practice in 2002
  • My grandfather recognized early on that yoga, up until then viewed as a mystical pursuit, “had something for everybody, not just the intellectually or spiritually inclined.”
    • Ms. Sridhar-Iyengar
  • He felt satisfied. Even at the end, even a few weeks before [his death at age 95], he said, ‘I’m satisfied with what I’ve done.’ He took yoga to the world. He knew that.
    • Ms. Sridhar-Iyengar
  • His first teacher was his brother-in-law, a Brahmin scholar who had set up a school of yoga at the Jaganmohan Palace, and who sometimes denied his student food if his performance was deemed inadequate. He then a teenager, was the youngest member of the Maharaja of Mysore’s entourage, and was asked to demonstrate his ability to stretch and bend his body for visiting dignitaries and guests.
  • Menuhin, who visited India in 1952, heard of his practice and penciled him in for a five-minute meeting, and was so instantly impressed that the session went on for more than three hours. He [Iyengar] recalled, in an interview with CNN, that “the moment I adjusted him and took him, he said, I’ve never felt this sense of joy, elation."
  • We were just coming out of the ’60s change-your-consciousness thing, and many of us were in our heads, and wanting to meditate, and reach Samadhi, or enlightenment. He was, like, ‘Stand on your feet. Feel your feet.’ He was so practical. His famous quote was, ‘How can you know God if you don’t know your big toe?’
    • Patricia Walden, his longtime student, in an interview in 2000.
  • At the end of a session in 2002, he lay on his back, knees bent so that his calves were beneath his thighs, arms out to either side, weights holding him down. He lay still for 12 minutes, perfectly immobile except for the twitch of a pinkie. Asked what he was thinking, he replied, “Nothing.”

BKS Iyengar – obituaryEdit

In: BKS Iyengar – obituary, The Telegraph, 20 August 2014

  • He was credited with bringing the 3,000-year-old oral tradition and physical practice of yoga to the West; he promoted a system, notable for its use of props and its step-by-step approach to the “asanas” (yoga positions), which is now the most widely practised form of the discipline in the world.
 
Menuhin became his fervent disciple, describing him as “my best violin teacher”. As well as using his new discipline on one famous occasion to conduct the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with his feet while standing on his head, he [Menuhin] invited him to teach in Switzerland, and introduced him to his students in London, to other artists, and to royalty.
  • Menuhin became his fervent disciple, describing him as “my best violin teacher”. As well as using his new discipline on one famous occasion to conduct the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with his feet while standing on his head, he [Menuhin] invited him to teach in Switzerland, and introduced him to his students in London, to other artists, and to royalty.
  • He was the first to introduce simple props such as ropes, belts, wooden blocks and bolsters to enable the elderly and less fit to maintain classical postures correctly and safely. The Iyengar form of yoga is now often employed by physiotherapists treating people with spinal injuries and back problems to recover full movement.

Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar passes away at 95Edit

Shoumojit Banerjee in: Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar passes away at 95, The Hindu. 20 August 2014

  • I have lived a majestic life
    • His comment to Dr. Manoj Naik, his family physician
  • Deeply religious, he always kept yoga and religion separate
    • Natraj Shastri, his family priest and disciple
  • He was a phenomenal person, compassionate, sensitive, caring and broad-minded. He was instrumental in revitalizing an ancient art and taking it to an international level.
    • Harit Iyengar, his grandson
  • He was a one-person movement...we will strive to keep his Sadhana (legacy) alive. He has achieved eternal peace. He was open to everyone even till his last breath.
    • Geeta Iyengar, his eldest daughter.
  • He was well known as one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. He is credited with establishing and popularising modern yoga first in India and then across the world. He created a unique school of yoga popularly known as ‘Iyengar Yoga’ and authored several books on yoga practice and philosophy which are considered authoritative texts used by practitioners, young and old.
  • Generations will remember him as a fine Guru, scholar and a stalwart who brought Yoga into the lives of many across the world.
  • Great lion of Indian yoga.

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