Sri BNS Iyengar has practiced Yoga for over 70 years. He was a young man during the early days of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in Mysore, and studied directly with Sri T. Krishnamacharya and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. He is the oldest living teacher of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and the last link to that early peer group and cultural paradigm. For yoga students who are interested in learning traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga he has a lot to offer. Guruji is a Sanskrit scholar. (Guruji means “Teacher Sir” and is a title given to senior teachers in Indian culture, especially Yoga teachers.) He has a vast knowledge of Sanskrit and the ancient scriptures connected with Yoga. Guruji is gifted in his ability to convey an authentic and traditional view of yoga to his students and teaches with chanting, amazing stories and a mischievous grin. Studying under his guidance offers an opportunity to learn Asana, as well as Pranayama, Mudra, Philosophy and other subjects that are part of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga but not commonly taught to foreign students. By studying with Sri BNS Iyengar foreign students can experience the cultural background that the practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga evolved from, and go deeply into all aspects of Yoga.
Sri BNS Iyengar’s interest in Yoga began at an early age. He was born in 1927 in a small village in South India called Hemmige Agrahara. This village is considered a holy place and has many ancient and beautiful Vishnu temples dedicated to Lord Vadaraja and his consort Perundevi. Brought up in a Brahmin family, he was immersed in the ancient rituals, scriptures and customs of India culture.
Sri BNS Iyengar’s education took place in primarily in Mysore. He attended the Maharaja’s Sanskrit College in Mysore, one of the most prestigious Sanskrit colleges in India. Guruji studied Yoga with Sri T. Krishnamacharya in Jagan Mohan Palace from 1943 to 1948. When Sri T. Krishnamacharya left Mysore in 1948, Guruji continued to study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Krishnamacharya’s senior student, for another 12 years. In those early days he received a thorough education in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and mastered Asana as well as Pranayama, Mudra, Vinyasa Vidya , Nyasa Vidya and many other related subjects.
Sri BNS Iyengar’s academic education, both with Sri T. Krishnamacharya and the Maharaja’s Sanskrit College, was long and in depth. It included study of the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Bhagavad Gita, Patanjali Sutras, and many other scriptures. He received a BSc degree from Mysore University. His education also included Ayurveda, Astrology, Physiology, Sanskrit Grammar, Chanting, and Classical Indian Music.
Around the time that Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga began to spread in America and Europe, Sri BNS Iyengar retired to his native village where he spent 8 years developing his personal yoga practices, especially Pranayama and Mudra. He came out of seclusion when he was asked to teach yoga at Parakala Mutt in Mysore in the early 1980s.
Sri BNS Iyengar is a hidden treasure in Mysore. He has taught Yoga to both local people and students from all around the world for over 30 years. In his early years he refused to advertise and simply taught whoever appeared before him and anyone who was truly interested. He founded Sri Patanjala Yoga Shala at Parakala Mutt in 1984. The Parakala Mutt has existed in Mysore since 1400 AD and has always been supported by the royal families in Mysore. The inauguration of Sri Patanjala Yoga Shala was presided over by Vidwan Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
Throughout his life Sri BNS Iyengar has always been an avid scholar, writer and thinker with a true passion for philosophy. To this day he loves to engage in spiritual discussion and debate with his students. He has travelled throughout India teaching and lecturing on Yoga, and has also made trips to the United Kingdom, Europe and America.
For the last 10 years Guruji has taught at Mysore Krishnamacharr Yoga Shala under the management of Kanchen Mala. Kanchen is a long-time family friend and student and has known Guruji since she was a small girl. Guruji and Kanchen often travel together on teaching trips and recently taught in the USA.
For any student who is truly interested in learning Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and learning all the philosophies and interconnected practices such as Pranayama, Mudra, etc., Sri BNS Iyengar is a gem. In the words of one of his American students, Sri BNS Iyengar is “the last link to the real deal”. He is the oldest living teacher of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. He carries an authenticity that comes with his age, background, and lifelong dedication to yoga. At the age of 87 he continues to conduct his classes daily with passion, humor, and inspiration at Mysore Krishnamacharr Yoga Shala.