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‘Live happily’ lesson lives on

Meera Raichura Vaghani, a yoga teacher in Pune, pays tribute to B.K.S. Iyengar. Meera has been a disciple at the Iyengar Yoga Institute in Pune for the last five years. Before this, she lived in Calcutta.

Guruji, as we would call him, was the soul of the entire institution. He has a large pool of teachers who are like parts of him. He has inculcated in them the same commitment and has made them hard and tough like him.

I was a disciple at his Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune for the last five years (2009-2014) and he always told us, “If you live happily, you die happily”. He founded the Iyengar school of yoga in 1973, a form that has trickled down from sage Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Today, there’s an Iyengar institute in every country in the world.

Standing asanas are a prominent feature of the Iyengar style of yoga because Guruji believed that legs are the foundation of the body. There is also the use of props. Guruji believed that with the aid of props, one can achieve calmness, especially those who are physically challenged or medically unfit. He believed that the body was a prop to the soul.

He would call the carpenter to his house and get made 147 props like belts, ropes, benches, tables, chairs, rods and drums which he himself experimented with, would lie down on, test with exact measurement before they were refined for all to use. One of the most-asked questions to Guruji was, “Why don’t you patent these props?” And he would say, “I have designed them so people can benefit. Has god ever filed a patent on his creations?”

No wonder he was called the Michelangelo of yoga.

Iyengar yoga comes with a lot of sadhana. No matter how much you practise, you never get bored or feel confined. Guruji has put so much of his life into this even after his wife (Ramamani), who was also his pupil, passed away (in 1973). His children Prashant Sir and Geeta Didi, as we call them, have taken forward the teaching. So has the third generation with his granddaughter Abhijata.

This morning we got to know that Guruji breathed his last at 3.15am. I know he was not well for a while because my uncle was one of his physicians. In July, he visited his village in Bellur (Karnataka) and after he returned, he had respiratory issues. His family members advised him to get admitted but he refused to go to hospital. He had like a bronchial cough and was treated at home and only when it worsened did he agree to go to the hospital.

His heart was performing at 20 to 30 per cent as per normal, he experienced extreme renal failure and was on dialysis. At 6.55am today, I went to pay my last respects to Guruji and as I saw him there and bowed down before him, these thoughts were running through my mind, “Why is he still like this? He should be in a yoga pose…”

Everything has come to a halt.