It is not often that we encounter someone who has, through intense discipline, developed such faith in a practice that it becomes his most intimate companion. When teaching, BKS Iyengar poured all of himself into the process of transmission, whether teaching 1 or 1,500 students.
With insight and extraordinary intuition, he could see each student’s potential and with courage, he guided us to realize it. He did not take the subject of yoga lightly or casually and he demanded the same focus from his students. I remember when he visited Los Angeles in 2005, our pre-dinner conversation turned to a yoga question. He started teaching and asked me to do the asana so that I could experience, rather than merely theorize. He was quiet throughout the dinner but the moment the meal ended, he picked up where he had left off, teaching late into the night. Despite a full stomach, the experiential lesson did not end until everyone insisted that he get some rest.
I observed the same energetic enthusiasm at 92 years old. When he was exhausted from a long day of travel and activity in Beijing, a reporter came to interview him after a late-night dinner. Guruji’s voice was quiet and frail until the conversation turned to the workings of yoga when his voice grew strong, his attention became sharp and the interview turned into a beautiful explanation of yoga philosophy and technique. When his mind was on his subject, he was completely absorbed and energized. Yoga was his love and his religion.
Marla Apt is a Certified Senior Intermediate Iyengar Yoga Teacher in Los Angeles.