B.K.S. Iyengar’s Impact on the Global Spread of Yoga

B.K.S. Iyengar’s journey in the world of yoga was marked by remarkable encounters and a profound influence on global yoga practices. In 1946, a significant moment occurred when B.K.S. Iyengar was introduced to J. Krishnamurti, considered one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century. Krishnamurti expressed a keen interest in learning yoga, and Iyengar became his yoga teacher for nearly two decades. Krishnamurti paid a tremendous compliment to Iyengar by acknowledging him as the greatest yoga teacher, a sentiment he shared with those inquiring about yoga instruction.

B.K.S. Iyengar was a teacher for all, regardless of background or status. His students ranged from ordinary individuals to royalty, exemplifying his dedication to spreading yoga to everyone.

Iyengar’s global influence extended to the United Kingdom and the United States, where he initially began teaching yoga to just two students. By 2005, his impact had grown so significantly that the people of San Francisco declared October 3rd as “B.K.S. Iyengar Day” in appreciation of his contributions to yoga.

In a historic moment, B.K.S. Iyengar became the first yogi to meet a Pope at the Vatican in Rome in 1966. Pope Paul VI praised him, acknowledging his role as a professor and director of yoga.

Iyengar’s connection with Russia dates back to 1955 when he demonstrated yoga for the then Premier of Russia, Marshall Bulganin, and Nikita Khrushchev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR. 

Light on Yoga

Light on Yoga was the seed that spread the message of Yoga in Russia. When Iyengar visited Russia in 2009, he was delighted to discover that the then President Dmitry Medvevdev, was an ardent supporter of Yoga practiced by the Iyengar School of yoga.

B.K.S. Iyengar visit to China 2011

In 2011, Iyengar was invited by the consul General of India in Guang Zhou to participate in the China -India Yoga summit. Nonagenarian Iyengar conducted master classes in China to an unbelievable overwhelming number of Chinese students.

The event was covered extensively by the Chinese media – so Yoga taught by Iyengar has reached out to millions of Chinese. Today the wind of yoga is blowing everywhere. Iyengar made yoga popular by attracting all people, irrespective of gender, race or religion. Iyengar gave 15,000 lectures and demonstrations single handed and in doing so popularised yoga in the west and in India.
  • Photo Credit: Taken from Yoga Samachar News letter Volume 15 No.2 Fall 2001 / Winter 2012 published by Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States.

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“You must purge yourself before finding faults in others. When you see a mistake in somebody else, try to find if you are making the same mistake. This is the way to take judgment and to turn it into improvement. Do not look at others' bodies with envy or with superiority. All people are born with different constitutions. Never compare with others. Each one's capacities are a function of his or her internal strength. Know your capacities and continually improve upon them.”