Remembering BKS Iyengar: The Man Who Redefined Yoga

Cameraperson: Abhishek Ranjan, Mukul Bhandari

Editor: Rahul Sanpui

(August 20 is the death anniversary of Yogacharya BKS Iyengar. This video is being republished to honor his contributions to Yoga and the way he has impacted thousands of lives.)

Nivedita Joshi, daughter of Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, is currently running the only accredited Iyengar Yoga institute in Delhi, called Yogakshema. After a Master’s degree in Microbiology, she decided to take the path of Yoga. She now teaches students and helps treat many of their health problems.

She explains to us what Iyengar Yoga is, how it is different from other forms of Yoga, and her own miraculous recovery because of it.

What is Unique About Iyengar Yoga?

Developed by BKS Iyengar after 85 years of practice, experiments and research, Iyengar Yoga is an interpretation of sage Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. With its special focus on alignment, precision and timing of asanas, Iyengar Yoga stands different from other styles.

Nivedita lists down four main points of focus of Iyengar Yoga:

  • Sequence: The order in which asanas are performed is very important to reap the maximum benefit from them. Each Iyengar class would have a unique sequence developed to progress in the right manner.
  • Duration: It is crucial to time the asanas in a manner that their ‘gestation period’ is complete. Comparing it with the birth of a child, she stresses on the importance of giving the right amount of time to an exercise in order for it to truly help you.
  • Improvisation: The philosophy of Iyengar Yoga is that there is absolutely nothing that can prevent a person to perform the asanas — because every posture, pose or exercise can be molded in a way that suits even people with specific conditions that inhibits their movement.
  • Props: The improvisation becomes possible with the use of props. Iyengar Yoga is known to make use of chairs, clothes, ropes and bricks to assist asanas.

Also Read: You Can Build Strength With Yoga: Here’s How

Her Miraculous Recovery

“I literally surrendered from the heart.”

Nivedita was 15 when she was struck with a slipped disc and cervical spondylosis, rendering her virtually bedridden for 12 years. Meeting BKS Iyengar, she believes, changed things in her recovery significantly. After 12 days of practice under him, she managed to perform an assisted handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana), modified for her medical condition, she adds.

"My God! If I can lift my body on my dead arms, this is the man and this is the subject which will bring everything in my life." - Nivedita Joshi

She further says that he was able to list down her medical problems simply by looking at her skin in their first meeting.

Also Read: Hot, Aerial, Hatha or Vinyasa? Which Type of Yoga Fits Your Needs

Yoga Is a Way of Life

People have misquoted the word Yoga. 

Yoga, she explains, is not just asanas and pranayamas. It is a way of life. Good health is merely a consequence of Yoga.

"The real aim of Yoga is to help you reach the higher consciousness. Everything else just follows."

She stresses the need for modern science to symbiotically co-exist with ancient knowledge. That way, the world could move ahead in a more holistic manner, and more and more people could be helped.

(This International Yoga Day, show us your best yoga moves. Send your entries on fit@thequint.com.)

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