The Yogi of Poise

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YOGACHARYA BKS Iyengar sits in his Pune library every afternoon, writing and responding to letters. Students sit on nearby tables, reading. Some use the time to talk to him and ask questions. Below the bushy eyebrows, there’s a welcoming smile. Even the silliest queries are answered in the same conversational tone, with a chuckle.

BKS Iyengar
BKS Iyengar
Age: 92
Profession: One of the foremost yoga teachers, he has written 14 major books and is credited with introducing yoga to the West
Daily dose: The shirshasana (headstand) for 30 minutes and the sarvangasana (shoulder stand) for 20 minutes Photo: Himmat Singh Shekhawat

He is a family man and lives with his children and grandchildren. His day begins – before the milkman rings the bell – with a bath, coffee and pranayam. At 9.15am, he begins his personal yoga practice. Lunch and dinner are simple dal and rice with curd. Before bed, he watches the news on television.

BKS Iyengar has been doing yoga since childhood and officially retired from teaching in 1984, but the number of hours he practises yoga hasn’t changed. “Earlier, I used to practise and teach. Now I practise and observe new things that I can transmit to my students,’ he says and then explains: “Physical health is not the end. It is the beginning for mental, intellectual, divine health.”

Iyengar’s voice and stride are steady. He was in Russia this April, teaching a class of 840 and will soon be on his way to Chennai for his grandson’s wedding. His memory is sharp. “If I say I cannot walk and cannot stand, that would be negative stress. I still say I am young – and that keeps me happy.”

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