My first massage client's son came in today and asked if I knew the famous Yoga teacher that died. I did not. I rarely listen or read the news, it being mostly bad, sad or negative. I avoid putting that energy in my consciousness. I believe that if it is really important news, it will find a way of finding me. As it did today.
We talked a little more about who this teacher could be. Myself sharing that the most significant teacher I have had is my teacher from my teacher training, Joanna Cashman. If she died, it would be a personal loss for me.
In my life, I have not been much of a follower. Maybe to my detriment, but I only follow those that I am really guided to follow. I was just saying this when all of a sudden a name pops into my head. And I am saying to my client's son, "unless of course you mean BKS Iyengar. He was the father of yoga to the western world." And all of a sudden, bells and whistles go off and my client's son is affirming yes, that is the name (he thought it was a Japanese name, how funny is that).
So, the Lord and Master of Modern Yoga has died at age 95. I am not saddened by this loss for myself, as I had no personal relationship with him, and I know as any good yogi does, that Mr. Iyengar is now with us all in the ethereal world. Shining his yoga light on all teachers everywhere that choose to call upon him for help. But I am sad for those that knew him personally and had the honor and grace to follow him.
I was introduced to Iyengar Yoga many years ago, in 1996 or 1997 by a wonderful yoga teacher named Mary, who taught yoga in Ocean Beach, CA. Because of my schedule I could never make it to the Beginners classes, and I always took the Intermediate classes. I hated them! I hated how militaristic the classes were. We stood, we posed, we aligned, we had to do Yoga the Iyengar way! My favorite part of Iyengar Yoga was Savasana, relaxation pose, at the end of class, where we laid down and rested with our eyes closed. Other than that, the rest of the 90 minutes was complete torture!
Needless to say, with my body complaining about being contorted into positions it didn't know or like, I gave up on going to Mary's yoga studio. I stayed away from Yoga until around 2003, when a friend invited me to a Hatha Yoga class. The class was in an intimate, carpeted, warm room. The teacher was breathy and seemed to be floating. We moved our bodies into different yoga positions while breathing and listened to our bodies and aligned our bodies into how it would feel most delicious. I immediately fell in love with Hatha Yoga. So no wonder when I became certified as a Yoga Teacher I chose Radiant Health Yoga (r), a Hatha based yoga training.
I will never forget my first yoga experience with Mary and her Iyengar Yoga. She had the fortuitousness to have studied with Mr. Iyengar every year. I deeply honor Mr. Iyengar for bringing yoga to the West, as well as bringing the use of Props to Yoga. Without the props that he introduced, Blocks, Straps, Chairs, Ropes, Walls, Ladders, many yoga poses would have been inaccessible to many of us, and we would not have learned how to ease into more challenging poses.
So dear Mr. Iyengar, thank you for your many years on earth as a teacher to me through my teachers and my teacher's teachers. Your contribution to Yoga is beyond words. Your physical presence will be missed.
The Washington Post has a nice article as well as BBC news.