BKS Iyengar: Four facts you need to know about the yoga guru behind today's Google Doodle

The yoga master is credited with bringing the ancient exercise regime to the West

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 14 December 2015 09:18 GMT
BKS Iyengar developed the technique of Iyengar yoga which was later adopted around the world
BKS Iyengar developed the technique of Iyengar yoga which was later adopted around the world

Google has chosen to honour the Indian guru BKS Iyengar - who is credited with bringing yoga to the West - to mark what would have been his 97th birthday.

BKS Iyengar - whose birth name was Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar - died last year after an eight-decade career popularising his version of “Iyengar yoga” in India and across the world.

But here are some of the things you may not know about the great yogi:

1.His brother-in-law was known as the “father of modern yoga”

In 1934, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya first invited his young, sickly brother-in-law to train with him in what was then the kingdom of Mysore (now Karnataka state) in southern India to improve his health.

Krishnamacharya was one of the key figures behind the revival of “hatha yoga” - from which Iyengar yoga developed - in the early 20th century which focused on the correct alignment of the body.

2. He owed his international success to an American violinist

In 1952, Yehudi Menuhin befriended BKS Iyengar. Menuhin believed doing yoga improved his playing and invited him to Switzerland with him in 1954.

After that visit, Iyengar travelled frequently to the west to demonstrate his special technique and hundreds of Iyengar yoga centres sprang up around the world.

3. He taught the 85-year-old Queen Elisabeth of Belgium how to do a headstand

Iyengar was first introduced to the dowager Queen in 1958 and she told him she wanted to learn how to do his signature sirasana headstand.

She gave him a bust of his head which she had sculpted herself. In 1965, he visited her again to help her regain some control of her movements after she suffered a stroke at 92.

Iyengar was a favourite of main celebrities such as writer Aldous Huxley and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.

Yoga on Subway Tracks

4. His children became celebrated yoga teachers as well

His eldest daughter Geeta and his son Prashant have become internationally renowned yoga practitioners and now run the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute - which BKS Iyengar founded in 1975 in honour of his late wife.

He also trained his granddaughter, Abhijata Sridhar Iyengar as a yoga teacher for many years and she now teaches at the institute and abroad.

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