The greatest Yogi in the world had a profound influence on Yoga in Canada

Subject: The World’s Greatest Yogi Had a Strong Influence on Yoga in Canada

 

With a deep sense of loss, the members of the Iyengar Yoga Association of Canada/

Association Canadienne de yoga Iyengar mark the passing of Yoga Master, BKS Iyengar, on August 20, 2014 in Pune, India, at the age of 95.

 

BKS Iyengar was acknowledged as the world’s greatest living yoga master, until his death this week. He visited Canada several times and had an immense impact on yoga in this country. Today, 250 teachers certified in the rigorous Iyengar method teach across Canada in dozens of communities. Another 100 are currently training to be teachers in this method.

 

Mr. Iyengar, or Guruji as many called him, was instrumental in bringing yoga to the West. He was named by Time magazine in 2004 as one of the 100 most influential people of the twentieth century. His impact on the world of yoga was immeasurable. He was innovative, creative, energetic, compassionate and challenging. He also adapted classical yoga poses into a therapeutic use, using particular yoga poses and sequences of poses to alleviate injuries and illness.

 

BKS Iyengar was the author of several books, including Light on Yoga, widely recognized as the ultimate source book on yoga poses and translated into 17 languages. It was first published in 1966 as his influence began to reach the Western World. He taught such luminaries as Yehudi Menuhin and Aldous Huxley, who helped introduce him and his work to the West.

 

Through numerous other books, articles, interviews, videos, and teaching tours around the world over decades his influence spread to the point where Iyengar yoga is taught today in 72 countries. He continued to travel and teach later in life, most recently visiting and teaching classes in China in 2011.

 

Although he never alluded to his form of yoga as “Iyengar Yoga,” his many thousands of students credited him with the creation of this unique form of practicing and teaching yoga. This method highlights precise alignment and includes the use of props (i.e. blocks, blankets, chairs and straps) to allow people of all ages and abilities to benefit.   He emphasized maintaining yoga poses for long periods of time. Yoga practiced in this way demands both will and discipline – which he possessed in abundance. The physical poses were for him primarily a means to foster self-knowledge and create a meditative state while on a spiritual journey.

 

Mr. Iyengar visited and taught in Canada several times in the 1980’s and 1990’s, after some Canadians made the journey to his home city of Pune, India. Some senior Canadian Iyengar yoga teachers have traveled to his Institute to continue study with him almost every year for more than 30 years.

 

Travel from Canada to Pune in the early years was extremely challenging and was motivated by the quality of the teaching BKS Iyengar offered. His kindness, dedication and his own deep constant practice called on these early pioneers of yoga from Canada to return time and time again for the richness of these teachings. They brought their knowledge back to classes in Canada and have enriched many lives, aiding people with physical challenges, emotional discomforts and bringing growth in all dimensions of life.

 

In recent years, with the growing popularity of yoga around the world and an increased interest in Iyengar yoga, there is a waiting list of 2 years for teachers and advanced students with at least 8 years experience to attend the month long sessions of Iyengar classes in Pune.

 

One of the joys of attending classes at the Institute was sharing the practice hall with Mr. Iyengar himself, who continued to practice publicly every day until just a few months ago. He would sometimes continue to instruct or adjust students or to teach through his granddaughter, Abhijata Sridhar-Iyengar.

 

His wife Ramamani predeceased him in the early 1970’s and the Institute in Pune is named in her honour – the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (or RIMYI).

 

Mr. Iyengar leaves behind his daughter Geeta and son Prashant, both master teachers at RIMYI, four other daughters (Vinita, Suchita, Sunita and Savita),and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

 

Iyengar Yoga teachers are recognized as highly trained yoga instructors and practitioners, undergoing rigorous assessments and certification procedures. The Canadian Iyengar association (IYAC/ACYI) oversees this process and ensures that the quality of Iyengar’s work is sustained.

 

The Canadian Iyengar Yoga community joins Iyengar yoga practitioners in over 72 countries in acknowledging the passing of BKS Iyengar with deep gratitude for his life and gifts.

 

For more information please visit: http://www.iyengaryogacanada.com orhttp://www.bksiyengar.com 

 

For interviews or to find a local Iyengar teacher to speak about the legacy of BKS Iyengar, contact: Drew Perry, President, IYAC/ACYI, perry4@mts.net orGlenda Balkan-Champagne, Communications Co-Chair, glendabalkan@gmail.com 

Sri BKS Iyengar teaching Sirsasana!

Sri BKS Iyengar teaching Sirsasana!

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Letter from John Schumaker, Iyengar Teacher

From John Schumacher, on the passing of Mr. Iyengar:

My teacher, mentor, friend, and inspiration, B.K.S. Iyengar, died today, Aug. 20, 2014 at age 95. He wasn’t just my teacher, mentor, friend, and inspiration; he was that to all his pupils, direct and indirect; he was that to the worldwide yoga community; he was that to mankind. The world has lost a truly remarkable, profound, transformational, and unique individual.

Guruji’s teachings and the force of his personality changed yoga as it is practiced and taught today and helped instigate the explosion of yoga worldwide. In light of his immense influence on yoga and in recognition of his role in yoga’s acceptance and popularity, Time magazine in 2004 included Mr. Iyengar among the 100 most powerful and influential people in the world. We – you and I, Unity Woods, the yoga world, and the world at large – will miss him tremendously. And though the light of his personality has gone out, the light of teachings will survive, thrive, and guide teachers and students of yoga for many years to come.

In this time of grief and remembrance, it would be good to put Guruji’s passing in perspective through his own words: “The sadhaka (seeker, practitioner, student) perceives that there is no difference between life and death, that they are simply two sides of the same coin. He understands that the current of self, the life-force, active while he is alive, merges with the universe when he leaves his body at death…….In realizing the oneness of life and death there is an end to ignorance in the aspirant, and he lives forever in the flow of tranquility.” Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, II: 9.

And: “Discover what does not die, and the illusion of death is unmasked. That is the conquest of death. That is why I did not cry for my wife, in spite of all my pain, for I will not cry for an illusion.” Light On Life

And finally: “I am old, and death inevitably approaches. But both birth and death are beyond the will of the human being. They are not my domain. I do not think about it. The complexity of the life of the mind comes to an end at death, with all its sadness and happiness. If one is already free from that complexity, death comes naturally and smoothly. If you live holistically at every moment, as yoga teaches, even though the ego is annihilated, I will not say, ‘Die before you die.’ I would rather say, ‘Live before you die, so that death is also a lively celebration.’” Light On Life

So we mourn and celebrate and do what Guruji always taught and what he would want us to do: practice with intensity and devotion and love of yoga.

From John Schumacher, on the passing of Mr. Iyengar:

My teacher, mentor, friend, and inspiration, B.K.S. Iyengar, died today, Aug. 20, 2014 at age 95. He wasn’t just my teacher, mentor, friend, and inspiration; he was that to all his pupils, direct and indirect; he was that to the worldwide yoga community; he was that to mankind. The world has lost a truly remarkable, profound, transformational, and unique individual.

Guruji’s teachings and the force of his personality changed yoga as it is practiced and taught today and helped instigate the explosion of yoga worldwide. In light of his immense influence on yoga and in recognition of his role in yoga’s acceptance and popularity, Time magazine in 2004 included Mr. Iyengar among the 100 most powerful and influential people in the world. We – you and I, Unity Woods, the yoga world, and the world at large – will miss him tremendously. And though the light of his personality has gone out, the light of teachings will survive, thrive, and guide teachers and students of yoga for many years to come.

In this time of grief and remembrance, it would be good to put Guruji’s passing in perspective through his own words: “The sadhaka (seeker, practitioner, student) perceives that there is no difference between life and death, that they are simply two sides of the same coin. He understands that the current of self, the life-force, active while he is alive, merges with the universe when he leaves his body at death…….In realizing the oneness of life and death there is an end to ignorance in the aspirant, and he lives forever in the flow of tranquility.” Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, II: 9.

And: “Discover what does not die, and the illusion of death is unmasked. That is the conquest of death. That is why I did not cry for my wife, in spite of all my pain, for I will not cry for an illusion.” Light On Life

And finally: “I am old, and death inevitably approaches. But both birth and death are beyond the will of the human being. They are not my domain. I do not think about it. The complexity of the life of the mind comes to an end at death, with all its sadness and happiness. If one is already free from that complexity, death comes naturally and smoothly. If you live holistically at every moment, as yoga teaches, even though the ego is annihilated, I will not say, ‘Die before you die.’ I would rather say, ‘Live before you die, so that death is also a lively celebration.’” Light On Life

So we mourn and celebrate and do what Guruji always taught and what he would want us to do: practice with intensity and devotion and love of yoga.

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Letter from the Iyengar Yoga Centre of Paris

iyengar345500_403264679766271_732400412_nChers amis dans le yoga,

Notre révéré maître Yogacharya Sri BKS Iyengar, notre cher Guruji, a quitté son enveloppe terrestre la nuit dernière, le 20 août, à 3h15, à Pune et son corps a été incinéré le jour même en présence des membres de la famille, des élèves de l’institut et des sympathisants.

Le départ de notre maître, qui fut considéré à juste titre le dernier des géants du yoga du 20ème siècle, crée un vide profond dans le monde du yoga et surtout dans le cœur de ses disciples, directs et indirects. Mais son immense et généreux héritage vibrera dans le cœur de tous les pratiquants de yoga éternellement.

Nous vous présentons toutes nos condoléances et nous vous prions d’honorer avec nous la mémoire de ce grand homme qui, à lui seul, a pu apporter tant de bonheur à des dizaines de milliers d’êtres humains.

Son message « vivez heureusement et mourrez majestueusement » sera gravé à jamais dans nos esprits.

Nous avons fait un puja avec plus de 70 enseignants présents au stage de Blacons en son honneur et nous vous remercions cordialement pour tous vos messages d’affection et de sympathie. Vu le grand nombre des messages qui affluent, nous vous prions de nous excuser de ne pas pouvoir y répondre personnellement.

Sricharan Faeq Biria et Sandhya Corine Biria

Centre de Yoga Iyengar de Paris

—————————————

Dear friends in yoga,

Our revered master Yogacharya Sri BKS Iyengar, our dear Guruji, left his mortal coil, last night, August 20, at 3:15, in Pune and his body has been incinerated the same day in the presence of family members, students of the Institute and well-wishers.

The departure of our Guru, who has been considered deservedly the last giant of yoga of the 20th century, creates a deep void in the world of yoga, especially in the heart of his direct and indirect disciples. But his immense and generous legacy will vibrate eternally in the heart of all yoga practitioners.

We present you all our condolences and we request you to honor with us the memory of this great man who, single handedly, brought so much happiness to the millions of the human beings.

His message “Live happily and die majestically” will be engraved in our spirits forever.

We performed a puja with more than 70 teachers present at Blacons intensives to honor his memory and we thank you from all our heart for all your messages of love and affection. Given the large number of messages that flow, we apologize for not being able to respond to each personally.

Sricharan Faeq Biria and Sandhya Corine Biria

Iyengar Yoga Center of Paris

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A letter from Guruji before passing….

Guruji has passed away today. 

Sadly, and with heavy hearts, we must let you know that Sri BKS Iyengar, our Guruji, has passed away.  After a brief stay in hospital he has left this life.  We have all been blessed by his presence, directly or indirectly, and we are immensely and forever grateful for his generosity of spirit.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this most difficult time. 

In memory, we share a recent message of Guruj’s:

Without consideration of caste, class, creed, religion or region, … it is said that the only royal path is yoga. This alone is the path that purifies the seeker of truth and no other.

With my deep love and affection toward you all, my heart is throbbing with a sense of gratitude; words fail me and I find it extremely difficult to send a message to you all, my yogic children to whom I am bound.

A message conveys that I am parting with you, but actually I am also close and attached …. Even those who learned and later parted from me are close to my heart because they carry the same message of yoga – the unity in diversity. Please know that we are all brought together by the invisible hands of God to jointly work towards integrating yoga further and further. This yoga – art, science and the self-culture of man braided together – has bound us forever and this affectionate bond and feeling that belongs to the heart, not the head, is not capable of being conveyed. These are feelings which have made us all live in contentment and emanate the rays of love and delight.

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Guruji has moved on…

BKS Iyengar

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Iyengar Restorative Yoga with Father Joe

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Bless Guruji

Bless Guruji for all he has taught us!Photo

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