B.K.S. Iyengar, a yoga guru who was credited with doing much to bring the ancient practice to the West, died in a hospital in Pune, India, on Wednesday morning at the age of 95, according to a family friend.
The friend, Dr. Satish Desai, said Mr. Iyengar had been receiving treatment for kidney failure.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said on Twitter that he was “deeply saddened” by Mr. Iyengar’s death and offered “condolences to his followers all over the world.”
Mr. Iyengar, who practiced his asanas, or postures, well into his 90s, established yoga institutes on six continents, including one in Pune, where he lived. Some of his better-known disciples included the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, the Indian independence fighter Jayaprakash Narayan and the American actress Ali MacGraw.
“Iyengar means yoga,” he said proudly in an interview in 2002. “Yoga means Iyengar. They are synonymous terms.”
An encounter with Mr. Menuhin in 1952 had much to do with the spread of Mr. Iyengar’s practice, which is characterized by long asanas, some lasting for several minutes. The violinist summoned him to Mumbai, which was then called Bombay, for a meeting that turned into a three-and-a-half-hour session. Mr. Menuhin later said that his yoga practice had changed his violin playing.
The violinist later brought Mr. Iyengar to Switzerland, where he introduced him to other prominent Westerners who became his followers. In his first visit to New York in 1956, Mr. Iyengar said he encountered racism but little interest in yoga. He told CNN in 2007 that it was only in 1961, after he had begun using yoga to treat ailing students, that it finally “took the West by storm.” Continue reading >>