B.K.S. Iyengar was born in 1918 and recently moved on August 20, 2014. He is considered to be the father of western yoga as he made yoga accessible to everyone. Since yoga is a journey of finding your inner self, how could it not be for everyone? His creative use of blankets, bolsters, straps and blocks help make each pose more accessible to each yoga body.
Iyengar was born into a very poor rural family in the village of Bellur. He was the 11th of 13 children; three of them died at young ages. Iyengar, himself, was a very ill child; he fought tuberculosis, malaria, typhoid and influenza and was told he wouldn't live past the age of 20. But in 1936, Iyengar found his life’s passion and the answer to his physical ailments when he found yoga. He studied under his brother-in-law Krishnamacharya until Iyengar was ready to teach on his own.
As a yoga instructor, the money was very sparce; he sometimes ate a plate of rice every few days. But his path changed when he met violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin, who had been experiencing muscle pain. Iyengar's ability to help his ailments through asana led him to traveling with the maestro and subsequently meeting his wealthy friends.
It is said that Iyengar practiced yoga for 2-3 hours each day and could still stay in headstand for a half hour in his mid- 90's.
In a letter he wrote to Aadil Palkhivala a short while ago:
"....my health is slowly fading due to a continuous virus infection which is affecting me very fast. I do not know when God is going to call me.
I wish you a happy life in case God calls me.
BKS Iyengar "
Patanjali writes one of our greatest fears as humans is death. Are you as comfortable with your passing as to wish those around you happy lives like Iyengar did?
What follows are a plethora of Iyengar quotes. They are all fabulous but maybe one speaks to you more poignantly than the others...
“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.”
“True concentration is an unbroken thread of awareness.”
“The physical body is not only a temple for our soul, but the means by which we embark on the inward journey toward the core.”
“It is through your body that you realize you are a spark of divinity.”
“You must purge yourself before finding faults in others. When you see a mistake in somebody else, try to find if you are making the same mistake. This is the way to take judgment and to turn it into improvement. Do not look at others' bodies with envy or with superiority. All people are born with different constitutions. Never compare with others. Each one's capacities are a function of his or her internal strength. Know your capacities and continually improve upon them.”
“Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”
“Action is movement with intelligence. The world is filled with movement. What the world needs is more conscious movement, more action.”
“The hardness of a diamond is part of its usefulness, but its true value is in the light that shines through it.”
“One's spiritual realization lies in none other than how one walks among and interacts with one's fellow beings.”
“Spirituality is not some external goal that one must seek, but a part of the divine core of each of us, which we must reveal.”
“Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like you are constantly trying to fit broken pieces together.”
“You exist without the feeling of existence.”
“Breath is the king of mind.”
“We must create a marriage between the awareness of the body and that of the mind. When two parties do not cooperate, there is unhappiness on both sides.”
“There is only one reality, but there are many ways that reality can be interpreted.”
“Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.”
“As animals, we walk the earth. As bearers of divine essence, we are among the stars. As human beings, we are caught in the middle, seeking to reconcile the paradox of how to make our way upon earth while striving for something more permanent and more profound.”