B K S Iyengar (14 December 1918 – 20 August 2014), was a famous Indian yoga guru who introduced yoga to the world. He is considered the “Father of Modern Yoga”.

Early Life

B K S Iyengar was born on 14 December 1918, in Karnataka, India. His dad worked as a schoolteacher. When Iyengar was 5, his parents moved to Bangalore.

In his childhood, Iyengar fell sick a lot. Most of the time, he skipped school due to health issues.

He was badly affected by an influenza outbreak in his hometown of Bellur when he was a kid. Consequently, he grew up sick and thin and later got typhoid, malaria, and tuberculosis.

He was considered to have a short life expectancy at 15 years old. As his health deteriorated, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, his brother-in-law, saved him by inviting him to Mysore. Iyengar moved to Mysore. His life started turning around soon.

Tirumalai was a yoga teacher and is considered the father of modern yoga. In order to improve his health, he pushed Iyengar to do yoga poses. Some of Tirumalai’s students would demonstrate yoga at the Maharaja’s court, which really influenced Iyengar.

Tirumalai had a hard time teaching the complicated yoga positions to Iyengar, who had a stiff body.

Tirumalai was also tough on his students. When his students didn’t master a certain “asana,” he wouldn’t let them eat. After becoming a yoga teacher, Iyengar followed the same methods.

Over time, he became Tirumalai’s favorite student. His regular yoga practice miraculously made him good at it. When he was 18, he was sent to teach yoga in Pune, Maharashtra.


During the early 1950s, famed violinist Yehudi Menuhin was in Mumbai, suffering from artist’s block. Then he started doing yoga under Iyengar’s tutelage. Yehudi had only five minutes to spare when they first met Iyengar. After that, Iyengar made him lie in Shavasana. There was supposed to be a five-minute asana, but Yehudi slept for an hour.

Yoga helped him a lot and inspired Iyengar to teach internationally. Iyengar was later credited by Yehudi as his best violin teacher. In 1954, he invited Iyengar to Switzerland. He taught yoga to celebrities like Jiddu Krishnamurti and Jayaprakash Narayan for the next few years.

Iyengar taught the headstand to Queen Elisabeth of Belgium when she was 80. Mira Nair, Sachin Tendulkar, Annette Bening, and Kareena Kapoor are other famous Iyengar students.

He moved to the U.S.A. in 1956 and taught yoga for a while at Ann Arbor, Michigan. Despite having a permanent base in London, he kept visiting Ann Arbor.

Iyengar published his first book, Light on Yoga, in 1966. It was an international bestseller and helped popularize modern yoga all over the world. Over 3 million copies have been sold, and it’s been translated into 23 languages.

As a tribute to his late wife, he set up the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in 1975. He finally retired from teaching yoga in 1984. Even so, he kept teaching special classes and writing books about yoga. Over the course of his life, he wrote 14 books.


He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1991, the Padma Bhushan in 2002, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2014 by the government of India.

He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by ‘Time’ magazine in 2004.


He died on 20 August 2014, in Pune, Maharashtra, India.

Read More: 14 December: Remembering Raj Kapoor on his Birth Anniversary

Tags: , ,