Following the recent passing of our master Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar, there have been countless tributes and media coverage from yoga practitioners and friends around the world. This is mainly because Mr. Iyengar has been credited with bringing the ancient and somehow esoteric art and science of yoga into the modern world.
One of them is an article in Washington Post: Death of Yoga Giant Iyengar Revives Debate: Are Yogis after Inner Peace or Tighter Glutes?
This article highlights the observation whether various yoga styles currently practiced in the West are remotely related to the tradition of yoga practiced by sages and yogis for the past thousands of years.
Mr. Iyengar often reminded us that he practiced Patanjalim yoga based on Patanjali’s “Yoga Sutras,” a philosophical text compiled around two thousand years ago. Through yoga postures, Mr. Iyengar sought to “realize a spark of divinity” through his body. He pioneered many innovative principles during his eight decades of demonstrations and teaching. As the Iyengar Yoga teacher in New York City, Richard Jonas points out in Life Sketch of Yogacharaya B.K.S. Iyengar, the biggest and most revolutionary contributions by Mr. Iyengar is that yoga is for everyone. From an array of yoga props and therapeutic approaches to yoga postures, practitioners of all ages and levels of fitness are able to achieve proper bodily and organic alignment.
Mr. Iyengar also left a rich volume of writings on the profound topic of yoga as a spiritual practice. His classic book, Light on Yoga (1966), has been hailed by critics as the “best book in English on Hatha yoga” and remains as the unparalleled guide to yoga practice for yoga practitioners around the world. He is also the author of Light on Pranayama: the Yogic Art of Breathing, Light on Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Light on Life and many other publications as well as countless articles on yoga.
Mr. Iyengar’s lifetime practice and devotion to the art of teaching cements the notion that yoga is not just physical fitness. It is a spiritual lifestyle of self-care. No matter what styles of yoga you practice, we all are indebted to Mr. Iyengar. The legacy of Mr. Iyengar’s thorough and profound exploration of yoga postures, pranayama and yoga philosophy is especially apparent in Matthew Sanford. Paralyzed since the age of 13, Matthew found Iyengar Yoga at 25 and have been practicing for the past 23 years. Matthew is also a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher based in Minnesota and teaches yoga and gives lectures around the country. In his tribune to Mr. Iyengar, Matthew shares: ” My debt (for Mr. Iyengar) goes further. I am someone who could have been easily left behind… No other style of yoga possesses the depth, precision, adaptations, and knowledge to welcome my paralyzed body into the world of the asana. It turns out that Iyengar Yoga’s revolutionary approach to alignment, precision, props, and adjustments transcends my severed spinal cord.” Matthew founded his life’s work with the non-profit organization named Mind Body Solutions and work with people living with trauma, loss and permanent disability through yoga.