Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, better known as BKS Iyengar is the founder of Iyengar Yoga. He is considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world and has practised and taught yoga for more than 60 years.
Guruji grew up as Krishnamacharya's brother-in-law, but as a boy, he was so sick and frail that he never seemed suited to asana practice. When one of Krishnamacharya's main students disappeared right before an important demonstration, Krichnamacharya had no choice but to train him who surprised everyone as an extremely quick study.
Guruji began assisting classes and giving demonstrations with Krishnamacharya, and after about two years of study, his guru sent him to the north to teach. His yogic path was just beginning, but he remained apart from Krishnamacharya from that time forward.
Largely on his own, Guruji developed a highly-advanced practice, and like a scientist, he experimented with hundreds of asanas using his own body as the subject. Through self-study, he developed a unique style of practice and teaching that focuses on postural alignment, proper form, and the use of props such as blocks and straps to aid beginning students who are learning poses.
Guruji has written many books on yogic practice and philosophy, and is best known for his books “Light on Yoga”, “Light on Pranayama” and “Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali”. He has also written several definitive yoga texts.
Guruji has systematised over 200 classical yoga poses and 14 different types of Pranayama (with variations of many of them) ranging from the basic to advanced. This ensures that as the students gradually progress by moving from simple poses to more complex ones and develop their mind, body and spirit step-by-step. His Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (“RIMYI”) established on 19 January 1975, is based at Pune south of Mumbai and is the source of Iyengar Yoga.
Iyengar Yoga is firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as expounded by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. It often makes use of props, such as belts, blocks, and blankets, as aids in performing asanas. The props enable students to perform the asanas correctly, minimising the risk of injury or strain, and making the postures accessible to both young and old. The development of strength, mobility and stability are emphasised through the asanas.
Guruji’s legacy is carried on through his daughter, Greeta, and his son, Prasant, at the Iyengar's shala in Pune.