BKS Iyengar was known as Guruji to his students. How beautiful that there is a culture that so honors teachers. His tireless practice and yearning to learn, coupled with the brilliant, methodical approach he cultivated in order to disseminate his knowledge, established him as one of yoga’s most pivotal figures.
My own relationship with Guruji began with his writing, but became far more palpable when I began to study regularly with his students. Though I had spent some time practicing other styles, the pedagogical mastery displayed by Iyengar instructors made those seem superficial. Here were directives that spoke to my body, that spoke to my mind, but were always linked to some unifying principle.
Here was a sense of community and a sense of commitment to students that was not at all new-age or flighty. Somehow Guruji shared that essence that is what we look to yoga for, but defies simple definition. My teachers drove me more than I was prepared for. They constantly took me to the precipice and beyond. I am truly grateful to all of them, and by extension, grateful to Guruji, the source of their inspiration.
Though Guruji is known all over the world for his own astonishing demonstrations, it is the art of teaching, and making the art of asana both accessible and meaningful to all, that are perhaps even greater contributions. We who aspire to teach in this method have a lofty task to maintain such exemplary standards. But if my teachers are any indication, the tradition is in good shape.