The lyengar System of Hatha Yoga stems
from the living yoga master, B.K.S. lyengar, who has
several million students worldwide. He systemized
more than 200 asana and pranayama techniques and documented
the anatomical principles they are based on.
He also evolved the therapeutic applications
of his system of hatha yoga. By studying under the
lyengar System, you will learn a specific series of
poses designed to help you progress gradually, building
the strength to move to more advanced techniques.
This system also involves using props such as blankets,
chairs and bolsters. Hatha Yoga focuses on your health.
It strives to improve both your physical and mental
well-being through specific poses (asanas), breathing
techniques (pranayamas), and meditation (dhyana).
Guided by your teacher, you will progress
at your own pace, working to achieve the careful and
precise body alignment and muscular balance that will
allow your body to function at its best potential.
Hatha Yoga works to increase your awareness of how
your mind and body can work together in harmony by
engaging every aspect of your being. And the focused
energy you exert in completing the techniques helps
you retreat from your daily stresses.
Website of B.K.S. Iyengar
Invocation to Pantanjali:
Invocation to Patanjali Chanted by B.K.S. Iyengar
Yogena cittasya padena vacam
(yo-gay-nuh chih-tah-syuh pah-day-nuh vah-chahm)
malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena
(mah-lahm shah-ree-rah-syuh chuh vy-dyuh-kay-nuh)
yopakarottam pravaram muninam
(yo-pah kar-oh-tahm prah-vah-rahm moo-nee-nahm)
(pah-tahn-jah-lim prahn-jah-leer ah-nah-to-smee)
sankha cakrasi dharinam
(shahn-kah chah-krah-see dar-ee-nahm)
sahasra sirasam svetam
(sah-hah-srah sheer-ah-sahm shvay-tahm)
I salute Patanjali, the revered sage,
Who brought Yoga for serenity of mind,
Grammar for clarity of speech, and
Medicine for purification of the body.
I salute Patanjali,
Whose upper body has a human form
Who holds a conch and discus in his hands and
Who is crowned by the thousand-headed shining cobra.
The History of the Invocation
The Sage Patanjali, the "father
of Yoga," lived in India approximately 2,200
years ago. A great scholar and philosopher, he was
the author of classical treatises on Yoga philosophy
(The Yoga Sutras), Sanskrit grammar (The Mahabhasya)
and Indian medicine (Ayurveda). Patanjali showed off
his mastery of Yoga and language by codifying the
entire Yoga system (Darsana) in just 196 sutras (scriptural
Tribute is made to Patanjali in the
above traditional sloka (verse).
The second verse describes Patanjali's symbolic form.
The thousand headed cobra represents infinity, the
conch calls us to Yoga practice and the disc symbolizes
the wheel of time and the law of cause and effect.
In reciting the sloka we pay respect
to Patanjali. We also pay respect to the three aspects
of his work: Yoga, Pada Shastra (grammar) and Ayurveda
B.K.S. Iyengar, (aka Yogacharya B.K.S.
Iyengar, Guruji) born Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja
Iyengar, December 14, 1918, in India, is founder of
Iyengar Yoga and one of the most respected yoga teachers
in the world. Millions of students and followers around
the world practice Iyengar Yoga. Iyengar has written
a number of definitive yoga texts.
B.K.S. Iyengar was born into a poor
Iyengar family. He had a difficult childhood. Iyengar's
home village of Bellur, Karnataka, India, was experiencing
an influenza epidemic at the time of his birth, leaving
him sickly and weak. Iyengar's father died when he
was 9 years old, and he continued to suffer from a
variety of maladies in childhood, including malaria,
tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and general malnutrition.
At the age of 15 Iyengar went to live
with the famous yogi, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
in Mysore. There, Iyengar began to learn asana practice,
which steadily improved his health. Soon his childhood
weaknesses were overcome.
With the encouragement of Krishnamacharya,
Iyengar moved to Pune to teach yoga in 1937. There
his practice developed as he spent many hours each
day learning and experimenting in various techniques.
As his methods improved, the number of students at
his classes increased and his fame spread. In Pune,
his brothers introduced him to Ramamani, and they
were wed in an arranged marriage in 1943.
In 1952, Iyengar met and befriended
the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Menuhin arranged
for Iyengar to teach abroad in London, Switzerland,
Paris and elsewhere. This was the first time that
many Westerners had been exposed to yoga, and the
practice slowly became well known. In 1966, Iyengar
published Light on Yoga, an international best-seller.
More than anything else, this book made yoga an international
phenomenon. Iyengar Yoga soon became the most practiced
form of yoga in Europe and America.
In 1975, Iyengar opened the Ramamani
Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, in memory
of his recently departed wife. He officially retired
from teaching in 1984, but continues to be very active
in the world of Iyengar Yoga, teaching special classes
and writing books. Iyengar's daughter Geeta and son
Prashant have become internationally acclaimed teachers
in their own right.
of Iyengar Teachers, and Iyengar Yoga Associations
In 1954, BKS Iyengar (Guruji) left India
for the first time, and at the personal invitation
of Yehudi Menuhin. He had been invited to give the
violin maestro private yoga lessons. Although Iyengar
travelled to Great Britain several times between then
and 1960, he was unable to interest anyone in the
regular and ongoing study of yoga. Therefore, he could
not establish any classes. However, this changed in
October 1960 when, at last, he gave his first private
class to his first three -- suitably enthusiastic
-- Western students: Diana Clifton, Beatrice Harthan,
and Angela Marris. In June 1961, Iyengar was able
to teach some 'regular students' when the sextet of
Patricia Angadi, Diana Clifton, Angela Marris, Silva
Mehta, Eilean Moon and Daphne Pick decided to practise
regularly together once a week. In 1962, Guruji authorized
these six students to teach others what they were
learning from him, as long as they taught in pairs
to support each other. They were therefore his first
'qualified teachers'. Iyengar was soon making annual
visits to England to teach his growing number of students.
He would go to the UK and stay for one month to six
weeks each time, before going on to Gstaad, Switzerland,
to teach the Menuhins and others there.
The success of Iyengar's British classes
was greatly aided by the publication, in 1965, of
his epoch-making and classic work, Light on Yoga.
Word of him spread at greater and greater speed, and
by 1967, the people he was teaching and training were
teaching for the London County Council. In 1969, the
clear, safe, and systematic 'method' of BKS Iyengar
was officially introduced into the adult education
curriculum of the Inner London Education Authority
(ILEA) by Peter Mackintosh, the ILEA's Chief Inspector
of Physical Education. Other regional and local authorities
in the United Kingdom soon followed. It was not long
before virtually all public yoga classes taught across
the length and breadth of the UK were being taught
by people directly trained and validated by him.
Since Iyengar was only visiting the
UK once a year, the demand for trained teachers far
outstripped the supply. It therefore became necessary
to establish teacher-training programmes to satisfy
that demand. The first official 'Iyengar yoga' teacher-training
programme was established under the auspices of the
ILEA at the College of Physical Education, Paddington,
being taught by Silva Mehta. Although the first of
its kind, others were soon created at various points
in the country. 'Iyengar' teachers were now appearing
in ever-increasing numbers. These early teachers had
direct contact with him, and studied with him at some
point on one or another of his yearly visits. By 1974
it was clear that some kind of structure and record-keeping
was needed. The idea of a ‘Teachers Association’,
so the "left hand" could better know what
the "right one" was doing began to be mooted.
In 1977 the "BKS Iyengar Yoga Teachers’
Association" (BKSIYTA) was formed, and began
to issue teaching certificates. The original certificates
have no date and were personally signed by BKS Iyengar
himself. Eleven years later, in May of 1988, the "Light
on Yoga Association'" (UK), was formed to have
similar oversight functions for the interests of the
copious number of Iyengar students (rather than simply
catering to the needs of teachers as the BKSIYTA was
then doing). The two Associations merged in 2003,
so creating the Iyengar Yoga Association (UK).
The BKSIYTA, an Association explicitly
created to propagate Iyengar yoga, was merely the
first of several National Associations to be created.
Similar associations now exist in Australia, Belgium,
Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Japan,
The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South
Africa, Spain, Switzerland and the USA, all with rich
and vibrant histories, and all with their enthusiastic
and highly competent teachers. All are busy passing
on Guruji's teachings to their immediate communities,
and together ensure that Iyengar yoga teachers continue
to have a reputation for excellence, thoroughness,
and competence. And, in addition to these more formal
Associations, there is a host of informal groupings
of teachers in the many other countries around the
world in which Iyengar yoga is now practised. Their
communities are also being serviced by teachers who
have been trained in the methods pioneered by Yogacharya
Sri Bellur Krisnhamachar Sundararaja Iyengar. They
range from Iran to Portugal, from the Marshall Islands
to Ireland. The number of Iyengar certified teachers
around the world now stands at over 2,200 -- and increases
The aim of the International Association
would be to create the opportunity for this vast and
extended family of spiritual seekers to come to know
each other; to work more closely together; and to
benefit from each others' wisdom and experience as
they jointly work to spread their Guru's teachings
vibrantly across the globe.