Who’s that man bending his body like a pretzel in today’s Google doodle?
Yogis might know. It’s Bellur Krishnamachar Sundaraja (B.K.S.) Iyengar.
Iyengar, who died in 2014, would have been 97 years old today. That’s why he’s getting the #GoogleDoodle treatment.
He began doing yoga after childhood bouts of malaria, tuberculosis and typhoid. In his 2006 book Light on Life, Iyengar wrote that his brother-in-law suggested “a stiff regime of yoga practice to knock me into shape and strengthen me up to face life’s trials and challenges as I approached adulthood.”
It worked. Not only did he improve his own condition, but he took yoga to the world — and helped bring in newbies by using the props like straps and blocks that make it easy for the slightly less flexible among us to strike a pose. So when you’re creating a triangle with your body and your hand won’t quite reach the floor without the aid of a block, thank Iyengar!
In an appreciation of Iyengar that Goats and Soda ran when he died of heart problems at age 95, contributor Rhitu Chatterjee interviewed a New Delhi yoga teacher, Zubin Atre, who said, “His contribution to yoga was enormous. Even for a simple asana [posture] like Talasana, which is standing straight, Iyengar had lots of details. Toes should be [stretched and] widespread, fingers should be together, buttocks are tight, head, neck and spine should be in complete alignment. There’s an instruction for every single part of the body.”
It also helped that Iyengar knew English well. And was a master of philosophic soundbites:
“It is through your body that you realize you are a spark of divinity.”
“It is through the alignment of the body that I discovered the alignment of my mind, self and intelligence.”
“One’s spiritual realization lies in none other than how one walks among and interacts with one’s fellow beings.”
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”
“Be inspired but not proud.”