October 2014 By Life Positive BKS Iyengar, doyen of Iyengar yoga, credited with popularizing Indian yoga in the West, passed away on August 20, this year. He died of heart and kidney failure at the age of 95. Iyengar is credited with popularizing yoga first in India, and then around the world. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1991, the Padma Bhushan in 2002, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2014. In 2004, Iyengar was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine BKS Iyengar: A giant among yogis His books include Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama, and Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Iyengar yoga classes are offered throughout the world. BKS Iyengar was born into a poor Brahmin family at Bellur, Kolar District, Karnataka, India. He was the 11th of 13 children of father Sri Krishnamachari, a school teacher, and mother Sheshamma. Throughout his childhood, he struggled with malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and general malnutrition. In 1934, his brother-in-law, the yogi Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, began teaching him yoga in Mysore. There, Iyengar learned asana practice, which steadily improved his health. Krishnamacharya had Iyengar and other students give yoga demonstration in the Maharaja’s court at Mysore. Iyengar considered his association with his brother-in-law a turning point in his life. At the age of 18, Iyengar was sent by Krishnamacharya to Pune to spread the teaching of yoga. He taught yoga to several noted personalities including Jiddu Krishnamurti, Jayaprakash Narayan and the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin. At Yehudi’s insistence he took yoga to the West and popularized it. He taught sirsasana (head stand) to Elizabeth, Queen of Belgium, when she was 80. Among his other students were the novelist Aldous Huxley, the actress Annette Benning, and the designer Donna Karan. Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and the Bollywood actor Kareena Kapoor too were his followers. Thanks to his indefatigable efforts, the world today is healthier, happier and more harmonious. A life very well lived, indeed.
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