A Yoga Master Leaves the Stage: Hindu Americans Mourn the Passing of B.K.S Iyengar

Washington, DC (August 21, 2014) -- Leaders at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) joined the legions around the world in mourning the passing of B.K.S. Iyengar, one of India's great yoga gurus. Iyengar, who was instrumental in bringing yoga to the West, died this past Wednesday at the age of 95 in Pune, a city in southwest India and home to his institute's main headquarters.
 
Iyengar studied under the eminent Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who is credited for having revived India's and the world's interest in yoga and asana. Like his teacher, Iyengar spread the teachings of yoga and largely contributed to the popularity of asana, yoga's third of eight limbs, in the West. Iyengar's teaching of asana focused on strict postural alignment and holding the asana for extended period of time.
 
"Iyengar's lifelong work of teaching the whole of yoga or the understanding that yoga is not just the physical endeavor of mastering postures, but a spiritual practice rooted in the Hindu concept of dharma, has deeply informed our work at the Foundation," said Sheetal Shah, HAF's Senior Director and one of the leads for the Foundation's Take Back Yoga Project (TBY). "Where too many yoga practitioners conflate yoga with asana, he sought to educate seekers on all of yoga's limbs and their essential spiritual aim."
 
In 2010, HAF launched the TBY Project in an effort to address the intentional delinking by many in the yoga industry of yoga from its roots in Hindu spirituality. As part of the launch, the Foundation released its paper Yoga Beyond Asana: Hindu Thought in Practice, which quoted extensively from both Iyengar and his son, Prashant Iyenagar.
 
"The world has lost a true master," said HAF cofounder, Aseem Shukla, MD., who's online debate on the roots of yoga was widely covered. "But his teachings will continue to inspire a quest for spiritual freedom through the millions of lives he touched."