You know those yoga teachers who force you to hold a pose way longer than you ever thought possible? They might be instructing a school of Hatha yoga called Iyengar yoga that emphasizes controlled breath, proper alignment and strength.
B.K.S. Iyengar founded this particular practice, teaching it from the 1950s to the early 2000s. He is considered one of the first teachers to introduce yoga to the West, training bigwigs like author Aldous Huxley and designer Donna Karan in his yoga practice. He even taught Queen Elisabeth of Belgium to do a headstand. She was 85 years old at the time.
Born in India on December 14, 1918,Iyengar credited yoga with saving him from a host of childhood sicknesses from which he suffered, including malaria and malnutrition. "My arms were thin, my legs were spindly, and my stomach protruded in an ungainly manner," he wrote, according to the New York Times. "My head used to hang down, and I had to lift it with great effort."
Iyengar died in 2014. Today, on what would have been his 96th birthday, Google commemorated the yogi with a Google Doodle:
Iyengar was a proponent of balance, authoring several books on yoga including 2005's "Light on Life," in which he wrote:
The physical body in other words is not something separate from our mind and soul. We are not supposed to neglect or deny our body as some ascetics suggest. Nor ware we to become fixated on our body-- our mortal self -- either. The aim of yoga is to discover our immortal Self. The practice of yoga teaches us to live fully -- physically and spiritually [...].
If words aren't enough to convince you of the inspiring yogi's worth, the gifs below -- from footage filmed when Iyengar was 59 years old -- might do the trick:
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