Thursday, 21 August 2014
I was working in the Upstart Crow, a book and coffee shop in Long Beach, California when I happened upon BKS Iyengar's book, Light on Yoga. This was 1990 or thereabouts, and I'd never encountered yoga before, at least, not up close. It was practically unheard of back at home. But something about the simple silver cover and the black and white photographs attracted me, so with my 30% staff discount I bought it and brought it home to have a go. I opened a page randomly, to prasarita padottanasana. Legs wide, bend forward, how hard could that be...? There was a ripping sound, hamstring maybe...
WhenI bothered to read the introductory essay it became apparent — if it wasn't already — that yoga is not for the faint hearted or the fickle. It requires attention and discipline, and ideally, a teacher. I've been to quite a few classes since, and have been teaching classes myself since the mid-90s. Although I never went to Puna to attend his classes in person, many of my colleagues did. Mr. Iyengar was an exemplary practitioner of yoga and an exemplary teacher, and by all accounts, an exemplary human being.
May he rest in peace.