The husband and wife partners—often called teachers’ teachers—pay their respective respects to their guru.
Nicki Doane: I had the privilege of studying at the Iyengar institute in Pune, India in 1997 with Mr. Iyengar, Geeta, and Prashant. What I most remember of that 2-month experience was seeing Mr. Iyengar practicing yoga in the studio every single day without fail. No matter how early I got there, he was already in the room and was a force to behold. His tenacity, brilliance, and poise were incredible, especially considering he was almost 80 years old at the time.
Just before we left to head home, I went down to the library in the basement of the institute and asked him to sign my copy of Light on Yoga. He was standing with a group of Indian men and graciously stepped away from them to sign my book. As he handed it back to me he gave me this incredibly bright big smile that I will never forget. I cherish that copy to this day. I still insist that every person who studies with us have that book; it is truly the bible of yoga. Thank you Mr. Iyengar for your dedication to the practice of yoga and for inspiring millions of students worldwide, myself included. Hare Krishna!
Eddie Modestini: A guru is an individual who can bring or help bring people from darkness into light. B.K.S. Iyengar was a true Guru and master of yoga for thousands. He was a man of integrity, honesty and profound insight. He took the time to polish the lens of his own being through his personal practice.
Mr. Iyengar taught me how to see the yoga inside an individual and follow it to unravel the mysteries within the practice. He taught me how to teach. He taught me how to keep it simple.
One time after teaching in front of him, I asked how my teaching was. He cocked his head and raised his eyebrows and said, “YOU SPEAK AND YOUR STUDENTS DON’T MOVE.” I was floored! I asked him to explain. He said, “You know all the right directions, but you’re missing the point. It is about giving life to the directions in the students’ minds and bodies. You give one direction in as many different ways as you can come up with and teach that one direction only. When 90% of the students do it, then and only then, can you move on.”
I thought of this almost every time I taught for the following 10 years. Because of the development of his own eye, he was able to lead his students into seeing, understanding, and communicating the yoga in a more precise and profound way. I will forever be thankful for his presence and his teaching. It is with tremendous humility that I pay tribute to this giant.
Eddie Modestini is an ashtanga instructor and co-director of Maya Yoga in Hawaii and California.
Read more about the influence Iyengar had on yoga and some of his students in these memories from Marla Apt, James Murphy, Matthew Sanford, Nikki Costello, Richard Rosen, Aadil Palkhivala, and Baron Baptiste.