Ooof, what a week. On a personal level, IAYB is settling into West Coast life and trying to get back into the swing of things, but blogging has been slow and difficult. I still feel excited about the blog and the yoga community, but I’ve been paralyzed by a nasty case of blogger’s block. Then my cat (who had been staying with my parents in the B.C. interior) died after being attacked by a coyote.
Just hours after hearing this tragic news, I learned that B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the greatest influences on modern yoga, also died. Of course, the passing of a 95-year-old legend has much more significance than my little cat who loved shiny things, being chased and sitting on my hand, but both events had a huge emotional impact on me. (And not to undermine Iyengar’s contribution to countless people’s lives around the world, but I have to admit that I was much sadder about my cat.)
I’ve never had the chance to study with B.K.S. Iyengar, although I’ve felt the effects of his work, through my dog-eared copy of Light on Yoga and through contact with teachers who’ve studied with him. In the absence of a community of practitioners in my new town, I’ve sought solace online. These are some of the most poignant remembrances I’ve come across in the two days since Iyengar’s passing.
Just the Facts
When somebody of this magnitude passes, the news reaches beyond the confines of the yoga community. News outlets around the globe published obituaries, and these tributes in The New York Times and the Guardian were among the most significant. This is the kind of thing that fills in the gaps, and is convenient to forward to curious non-yoga friends and family who just want to know what this guys is all about.
Eulogy from Somebody Who Didn’t Even Know Him
I was blown away by this post from a random teacher and writer who has never studied with or known Iyengar. She writes with clarity and eloquence, chewing on the bigger questions of his passing. I especially loved this: “The passing of the teachers changes the role of the students. It throws us off into a place of less direction and unclear paths. The mantle of the teaching floats a bit. If we’ve studied well, I think the direction, the teaching, the path, will shift.”
The Breadth of Iyengar’s Influence
Charlotte Bell explains how modern practitioners have been influenced by Iyengar’s teachings, whether we’re aware of it or not. She did actually have personal experience studying Iyengar, but in this post she keeps her focus on the aspects of Iyengar’s method – attention to alignment, therapeutics and sequencing – that filtered down into many modern systems of practice in the West.
An Unsentimental Tribute
Derek Beres, however, looks at the cultural significance of Iyengar and draws lessons from the teacher’s early life. He honours Iyengar’s strength and influence without sentimentality over on Big Think.
From the Frontlines
Serious Iyengar student, YogaSpy, who is currently studying at RIMYI (Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute) in Pune, shares the extraordinary experience of attending Iyengar’s funeral. Whether it’s synchronicity or divine appointment, this intimate and special post was a marvelous read.
Filling in the Blanks
For those of you who are wondering what’s the big deal here, senior Iyengar teacher, Carrie Owerko, tells the NYT what makes Iyengar yoga special. In this short Q&A interview, she touches on the human side of him and clearly demonstrates what makes him a remarkable teacher. Hint: it’s more than the poses he’s mastered.