BKS Iyengar

Called the “Michelangelo of yoga” and the “king of yogis,” named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, B. K. S. Iyengar is universally acknowledged as the world’s greatest yoga teacher.

Yogacharya (yoga master) Iyengar brought yoga to the west with his pioneering teaching in the 70s, the beginning of today’s explosive growth in yoga. His seminal manual Light on Yoga, called “the bible of yoga” and continuously in print since 1966, has been the source book for generations of yoga students. Mr. Iyengar’s most recent work is the bestselling Light on Life, which led to a world tour of standing-room-only appearances.

His invention of yoga props — now ubiquitous in yoga studios of all styles — revolutionized the art. Blankets, belts and other devices allow students of all skill levels to work safely in the classical yoga asanas (postures). Mr. Iyengar also revolutionized the therapeutic applications of yoga, gaining recognition for yoga as treatment for serious medical conditions.

Perhaps the most groundbreaking aspect of Mr. Iyengar’s teaching is that through the yoga asanas and Pranayama (the control of the breath), the practitioner can explore the most advanced stages of yoga, including concentration, true meditation and even Samadhi, the mystical union of the individual soul of the practitioner with the universal soul — God. By bridging the traditional distinctions between hatha yoga, sometimes considered a merely physical form, and yogas, which focus on the intellect, devotion and meditation, Mr. Iyengar has brought the spiritual nature of yoga home to hundreds of thousands of devotees.

Triumphing over poverty and serious childhood illness, B. K. S. Iyengar began his study of yoga with his guru, T. Krishnamacharya. Practicing hour after hour, year after year, he acquired the encyclopedic knowledge, which fired his teaching.

Mr. Iyengar continued his daily practice at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India, until shortly before his death at the age of 95 on August 20, 2014. Named for Mr. Iyengar’s late wife, who died shortly before it was completed, RIMYI is where Mr. Iyengar’s daughter and son, now the chief teachers of his method, carry on his work.

Mr. Iyengar’s daughter, Geeta S. Iyengar, is the author of Yoga: A Gem for Women, the pioneering work on yoga for every stage of a woman’s life. His son, Prashant S. Iyengar, has also written extensively about yoga.

Mr. Iyengar’s other influential works include Light on Pranayama, Light on the Yoga Sutras and The Tree of Yoga.