Monday, December 21, 2015

A Household Name


Google’s doodle on December 14, BKS Iyengar’s 97th birthday, exposed millions of people around the world to our treasured teacher. No amount of paid advertising could’ve given us that level of exposure. No one who happened to land on their search page that day can claim to NOT know who Guruji is. Hopefully more than a few folks clicked further to read the astute blurb about him, and about Iyengar Yoga. For once, the description of Iyengar Yoga was not about the superficial distinctions about props and the overused and misunderstood emphasis on “alignment,” but rather about “tremendous control and discipline,” and the spreading of yoga around the world.

This is a huge boon for Iyengar Yoga Detroit and other centers in communities that have had little exposure to these profound teachings. Maybe, just maybe, instead of hearing “I-what?” we will hear, “Oh, THAT bendy guy who was on Google.” And maybe even, “I wanna try that!”

Here in India, the Google buzz on Guruji’s birthday spread like wildfire. Alongside all the other festivities, we got to bask in the media glow, despite the controversies of the tech giant featuring him.

Maybe these little cartoons will make it a tiny bit easier to explain what Iyengar Yoga is. Like I said earlier, it’s not just props, it’s not just alignment. Iyengar Yoga is not slow, or just for beginners, or just for advanced practitioners, or just for the injured. It can be fast, like the Surya Namaskars we practiced with Geetaji in Bellur, at Guruji’s birthday week celebrations.

It can be completely propless, like I do in many off-site classes throughout the community. It can be for the young, like the children of the Bellur schools, demonstrating at the yoga hall inauguration.


Photo by Marla Apt
“Iyengar Yoga contains all the other forms of yoga,” one student aptly described. “It can be yin yoga, power yoga, partner yoga, restorative yoga, and therapeutic yoga.” The only thing I haven’t seen Iyengar Yoga be is “Doga,” although I wouldn’t rule it out as part of a well-rounded home practice.


So, beyond the trends and gimmicks, here we are, meeting the mat daily, sometimes jumping, sometimes supine, often upside down, always deeply, humbly, profoundly grateful. Happy birthday, Guruji. May we proliferate your teachings and share your wisdom with all earnest seekers.

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