Obituary: B.K.S. Iyengar, 95; was known worldwide as creator of Iyengar yoga

August 23

Indian yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar, who helped popularize yoga around the world and wrote 14 books on the subject, died Aug. 20 at 95.

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar’s death was reported on his Web site as well as by major Indian TV stations, which said he had been hospitalized with a kidney ailment over the past week in the western city of Pune.

Mr. Iyengar was born on Dec. 14, 1918, into a poor family in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. He was a sickly child who suffered multiple illnesses, including typhoid and tuberculosis.

When he was 15, a relative introduced him to yoga in an attempt to build his resistance to disease. By the time he was 18, he moved to Pune to practice yoga and to teach it to others.

Mr. Iyengar created his own brand of yoga, called Iyengar yoga, and established studios in 72 countries where yoga practitioners are taught ways to improve breathing, concentration and meditation.


B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the world's leading yoga masters, died Aug. 20 at 95. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

By the mid-1950s, word of Iyengar yoga spread in Europe, where he began teaching many new converts, including violinist Yehudi Menuhin and author Aldous Huxley.

The popularity of Iyengar yoga spurred him to write a book called “Light on Yoga,” explaining the 216 yoga postures that formed what he called the science and art of yoga. The book became a global bestseller, with more than 3 million copies sold, and has been translated into 17 languages.

Mr. Iyengar, recognizable by his bushy eyebrows and silvery shoulder-length hair, practiced yoga until two months ago and even did headstands in his 90s.

Iyengar yoga’s physically challenging poses and breathing techniques have been adopted by mainstream medical practitioners to help patients who have diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic back pain.

In 2004, Time magazine named Mr. Iyengar one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

His wife, Ramamani Sundararaja, died in 1973. Survivors include six children.

— Associated Press

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