Mr. Iyengar, also known affectionately as Guruji, is seen here during a delightful moment in front of the camera. One of his favorite words was "vast" and I feel certain that he felt the vastness of this natural setting. He was a force of nature himself, as playful and strong as the wind swirling around him.
You can see his good will and sense of humor in this photo. These qualities were interwoven into the foundation of his teachings - even when he was strict about paying attention to the details of what we do in the asana. While I never journeyed to India to study at his institute, I did study with him here directly for a combined time of four weeks over the years when he travelled to the US to teach. I am so grateful that I did that because I witnessed first hand the twinkle in his eyes, his infectious laugh, and when a student was struggling, his wise empathy.
I had a few interactions with him in various situations - in classes, during lectures, and at social events. Treasured memories. One interaction that I had was a letter exchange with him. He was known to be a good communicator, especially letters, and during his last tour of the US to promote his book, Light On Life, I decided to write to him about something he said during a fireside chat with us, his students. In response to a question, he said that teaching children is different from teaching adults and it's important to change the approach to meet their natures and needs.
I won't go into details but will say that I was seeking his advice about a teaching situation I had in 2005. I told him what was happening and that perhaps I had mistakenly assumed that college students are adults. I was teaching them as if they were adults. Was my assumption at the root of a few problems that were manifesting in those classes? I sent it off with the hope that he would read it but I didn't expect an 88 year old man to respond to someone he didn't know.
But I was wrong - he wrote back within 2 weeks! He addressed me as "My Dear Suzanne Newton" and then went on to give me a few suggestions about teaching children ages 17 - 24. He raised six kids of his own and taught hundreds more, so his words were based on experience, not theory.
The tone of his response was generous and supportive, even though he diplomatically confirmed that I had made a mistake and he was happy that I was seeing some positive changes based on his talk. He closed the one page letter this way: "With love and affection. Yours Affectionately, BKS Iyengar".
Some yoga students and teachers like to differentiate yoga methods in simplistic ways, as if styles of practice are exclusive. Breath centered yoga versus heart centered. Precise alignment versus continuous flow. Mr. Iyengar's practice and teachings embodied the integration of breath, heart, precision and flow. If you've heard otherwise, please scroll up one more time and look at his smiling face, a man and a method that have touched yogis world-wide.