I typically avoid the topic of what is or is not Iyengar Yoga. I find it disheartening to hear people so narrowly define the subject that I find so liberating. I recently saw a magazine article trying to help students find out what kind of yoga is for them. The article went on to carve out niches for the different “brands” of yoga. Ugggh. This past month of February while studying at the Iyengar Institute in Pune, India, I had time to reflect on this topic. When I came home, I decided to put my words on paper and share my thoughts about what Mr. Iyengar achieved in his 80 years of practice and teaching. Here is what I came up with:
Yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar (our Guruji), who passed away on August 20, 2014, at age 95, is perhaps the most important yoga teacher of the 20th century. He is known for using his body as a laboratory to study the innermost depth of his being. He would talk about how he tasted all the fruits and figured out what is poison, so that what he gave us was pure nectar. He did not, however, call what he did “Iyengar Yoga.” He called it “Patanjali’s Yoga” in honor of the great sage, who compiled the Yoga Sutras about 2500 years ago. As is human nature, though, we unfortunately get hung up on names and try to put Iyengar Yoga in a box.
Statue of Patanjali at IYAVL