general info

BKS Iyengar

Early Years

BKS Iyengar was born in India in 1918. He was born weak and sickly as his mother contracted influenza during the world epidemic. As he grew into boyhood his health deteriorated and by the time he was 17 he was suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis.

His brother-in-law Professor T. Krishnamacharya, who had a Yoga school in Mysore, suggested that Iyengar should take up Yoga to improve his health and offered to help him. He excelled in the practice of Yoga and was soon giving demonstrations and teaching.

International Recognition

Iyengar moved to Pune in 1936 to take up a job as a Yoga teacher. He married Srimati Ramamani in 1943 and started his family. His efforts in Yoga continued with 10 hours practice a day. Within a few years crowned heads of India, eminent statesmen and distinguished figures of international fame became his students. Among them were Dr G S Pathak, then Vice-President of India. He gave demonstrations before Dr. Rajendra Prasad, President of India, Mohmad Hatta, President of Indonesia and the Pope.

Meeting with Yehudi Menuhin

It was one of his students, the wife of the internationally renowned heart specialist Dr Rustam Vakil, who introduced him to Yehudi Menuhin in 1952 when he asked for a referral to a yoga master. Menuhin’s violin career was in jeopardy as a result of overstain; thanks to Iyengar he recovered completely and named Iyengar his ‘best violin teacher’. It was Yehudi Menuhin that brought Iyengar to the West. Iyengar met and taught many of the world’s leading musicians, such as Lilli Kraus, Sir Clifford Curzon and Jacqueline du Pre. He also taught Queen Elizabeth of Belgium.

The Institute in Pune

Iyengar’s Institute in Pune was built in 1973. Sadly, Ramamani died before the building was completed. The institute is named in her memory - Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute.

Iyengar Today

Iyengar has studied and practised Yoga continuously for more than 65 years. There are now 180 Iyengar Yoga Institutes world-wide and Iyengar Yoga is taught in more than 40 countries. Internationally recognised as a leading authority on hatha yoga, BKS Iyengar has established the relevance of yoga to the treatment and cure of many illnesses and stress-related conditions. He has received many prestigious awards, including Doctor of Science from the United Nations Charter for Peace, and the Purna Swasthya Award from the World Federation of Societies of Holistic Medicine. He has authored a number of books including the international best-seller, Light on Yoga, Light on the Sutras of Patanjali and the Tree of Yoga.