Stop Thinking B. K. S. Iyengar was Born That Flexible. He was NOT!

B. K. S. Iyengar is widely known for his masterpiece “Light on Yoga”, a thick how-to book that most yogis and yoginis refer to as ‘yoga bible’. The pictures are captivating and jaw dropping, too, especially if you’re a beginner. There are too many unusually contorted photos of Iyengar there that murders almost every beginner’s spirit of starting doing yoga, or conversely, these novices are so motivated that they vow to themselves they want to be the super bendy guy they see in the book. It seems like every yoga enthusiast, practitioner and guru endlessly cite the sentences of Iyengar.

And today, once again Iyengar had a mention in the workshop at which Christina Sell was teaching. As she said we needed to take a look at Light on Yoga, some of us blurted,”He (Iyengar) was born that way.” Christina said,”No.”

REALLY? We stared and frowned at each other, in utter disbelief. How can it not be an innate tendency, a gift from God? Was Christina possibly joking?

Christina went on once she thought we wouldn’t believe her words that easily. “He (Iyengar) was born very sickly,”she explained. As he grew up, he couldn’t sit down properly for 30 minutes in regular classroom chairs. He thought it was abnormally shameful, because everyone else managed to do that. His mother passed away following his birth and being the son in the family, he wasn’t treated like a golden boy. Iyengar was cast off by the family, who thought he must have been dead anytime soon. His older sister got married and practically left young Iyengar alone. With such a frail body, Iyengar also found it hard to touch his knees. In other words, he wasn’t born that bendy and stretchy!

To add to the amazement, Christina told us he started to practice yoga of his own style during his middle age (40’s). “Not really young. He wasn’t a 20 something man.”

Now Iyengar is in his 90’s. Still alive and kicking. ‘Pretty fly’ for a yogi that age.

So it’s all about regular practice as we can see it. He earned his being outstandingly bendy with a long time of toil.

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