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November 2014 - Thank You B.K.S. Iyengar

Dear Yoga Friends,

It has been a little over three months since B.K.S. Iyengar passed away, and he would have been 96 years old in two weeks. He left a legacy so large that it will persist in the collective consciousness of yoga, and ironically because of the scope of this legacy, his contributions will never be fully acknowledged. There are practitioners of Iyengar yoga, most of whom have been practicing and teaching for several decades and have made regular trips to India since the 1970's or earlier, who have had B.K.S. Iyengar as their primary teacher. You can read illuminating perspectives from a few of these yogis and yoginis in the compilation Iyengar, The Yoga Master. Although I am not in this category of direct disciples, I still feel an invaluable personal connection with this man.

I have been to Pune twice, only once to study, and it has been twenty years since I was there. Below are a few photos from that time. It is not just being in B.K.S. Iyengar's physical presence, as inspiring and transformative as that can be, and being lucky enough to have had a few conversations with him, that has had an impact on me. His teachings have made their way to me through other teachers and fellow students, and his books, such as Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama, and Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, have spoken to me deeply. When I practice, he is there in the essence of what I am practicing, and if things are going well, in how I am practicing. Whether or not I think of him explicitly, he guides me in a real sense, despite the facts that he is no longer alive, and that I spent very little time in his presence.

In the introduction to Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar writes:

The conception of a Guru is deep and significant. He is not an ordinary guide. He is a spiritual teacher who teaches a way of life, and not merely how to earn a livelihood. He transmits knowledge of the Spirit, and one who receives such knowledge is a sisya, a disciple.

Although I am not B.K.S. Iyengar's sisya in any strict sense, the man has had an indelible impact on my life, and I have learned from him tremendously. There is no way for me to fully thank him, but at this time of Thanksgiving, I hope we can join together in a spirit of gratefulness for what B.K.S. Iyengar has made possible.



Chad Balch