BKS Iyengar, the Indian yoga teach who founded one of the world’s most popular yoga styles, has died in India city of Pune. He was 95.
The Times of India reports that Iyengar had been ill for three weeks but had refused to be admitted to hospital until last week, when he was found to be suffering from multiple organ failure. He died early on Wednesday morning.
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (BKS) Iyengar in Bellur in the southwestern state of Karnataka in 1918 and in 2004, was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time Magazine.
He was the 11th of 13 children and multiple childhood illnesses led him to begin yoga when he was 16. His teacher was his brother-in-law and the man dubbed the father of modern yoga, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. At 18 he began to teach yoga and in the subsequent decades developed his personal philosophy, which became Iyengar yoga.
The practice, devised from astanga yoga, added props such as wooden blocks, belts and rope to assist practitioner in their postures.
Iyengar wrote books on yoga, including Light on Yoga, which became an international best-seller translated into 17 languages, but his influence in the west was thanks largely to his friendship with the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who brought him to London and Europe to teach yoga in the 1970s.
Yoga’s popularity in the West is due to Iyengar, and Iyengar schools are now found in 40 countries. Of 2000 qualified Iyengar teachers globally, 200 are in Australia.
He counted author Aldous Huxley, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and assorted Hollywood actors among his disciples and even taught the Queen Mother of Belgium to do a headstand when she was 80.
Iyengar retired from teaching in 1984, having founded a yoga institute in Pune in 1973, but even in his 90s continued to practice for 3 hours daily.
Two of his children, Geeta and Prashant are internationally renowned yoga teachers.
He is survived by six children.
Iyengar’s website pays tribute to him with the saying “I always tell people live happily and die majestically”.