Iyengar System of Hatha Yoga:

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.

The Official Website of B.K.S. Iyengar

Iyengar Yoga Resources


Invocation to Pantanjali:

The 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)
patanjalim pranjaliranato'smi
(pah-tahn-jah-lim prahn-jah-leer ah-nah-to-smee)

abahu purusakaram
(ah-bah-hoo poo-roo-shah-kar-ahm)
sankha cakrasi dharinam
(shahn-kah chah-krah-see dar-ee-nahm)
sahasra sirasam svetam
(sah-hah-srah sheer-ah-sahm shvay-tahm)
pranamami patanjalim
(prah-nuh-mah-mee pah-tahn-jah-lim)
Hari Om

English Translation:

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 Patanjali:

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 narratives).

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 (medicine).


B.K.S. Iyengar

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.


The Beginning 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 almost daily!

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.


B.K.S. Iyengar















"Words fail to convey the total value of Yoga. It has to be experienced."
B.K.S. Iyengar

Quotes taken from "IYENGAR: His Life and His Work" (Timeless Books 1987)


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