Institute at Bellur to keep Iyengar yoga legacy alive
A YEAR AFTER BKS IYENGAR’S DEMISE… As daughter Geeta takes the helm, first death anniversary sees yoga guru’s spirit in the teachings of his students.
Before BKS Iyengar passed away last year, he had insisted that the show must go on. And what better way to continue his highly esteemed yoga legacy than by setting up an institute at his birthplace, Bellur, in Bangalore. The foundation stone of the building had already been laid in the yoga guru’s presence in May last year. The institute in Bellur will be completed by the end of this year.
“There will be a huge hall along with accommodation facilities at the Bellur institute. The logistics are still to be decided, but locals and foreigners who would like to learn can come here,” informed Rajvi Mehta, who is an Iyengar yoga teacher for more than 35 years. Thursday is Iyengar’s first death anniversary.
“Guruji wanted to give something back to his birth town, since it was where his roots were. He had first started a school in the village in 1967. But, it was a primary school and was only till standard 7. In fact, Guruji had also formed Bellur Krishnamachar and Seshamma Smaraka Nidhi Trust (BKSSNT) with a vision to serve the adjoining villages as well. Back then, children came to school only for midday meals. Incidentally, the trust provided not only free meals, but also uniforms and books, which have helped change the students’ outlook,” Mehta added.
In 2005, the trust had even built a special school for girls at Bellur as there was none. Subsequently, a yoga hall was also built atop the school to conduct yoga classes for children from Bellur and the neighbouring villages. Now, the new institute at Bellur will function on the lines of the city’s yoga establishment, with training sessions for teachers, locals as well as foreigners.
After his death, daughter Geeta Iyengar had vowed to keep his Sadhana (legacy) alive. A visit to the institute showed she had indeed kept her promise. It was functioning in the same spirit as it did during BKS Iyengar’s lifetime. “A guru is a guru and we’ll always be his shishya. But, he has imparted knowledge open-heartedly, which we continue to spread. We will miss him,” she said. Pandurang Rao, BKS Iyengar’s secretary and right hand man, couldn’t agree more. “Guruji understood the human anatomy very well. Now, after him, daughter Geeta takes care of patients, who come to the institute for various cures. Students continue to learn with the same zeal and passion. In fact, we have more people joining the institute now,” he said, adding, “We feel his absence but the show must go on.”
Penny Chaplin, a student who teaches Iyengar yoga in UK, said, “In the 1970s, I learnt yoga from a book. But, I always felt there is something amiss. It was then that I was sent to the Iyengar institute to attend a teachers’ training programme. Since then, I never looked back. Although his absence has left a huge void, I will continue to take forth his teachings,” she fondly recalled.
Pessi Feig, another Iyengar student who runs a yoga centre in Isreal for the last 25 years, said, “We feel his spirit everywhere. His legacy and energy continue through his teachings, which are there with me all the time.” Kishor Ambekar, who has been teaching since 1990 and also takes classes at the institute now, added, “He has left behind a body of great work and a strong foundation, which has been carried forth by his followers. I have done other schools of yoga as well. All the schools follow Patanjali but interpret it in their own ways. I found Guruji’s interpretation to be the best. His presence is still felt. He guides us still with his teachings.”