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In Memoriam B.K.S. Iyengar 1918-2014

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar  B.K.S. Iyengar. Photographed at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, in Pune, India. Photograph: Michael O'Neill "Only his body has ended. One person's efforts from inside out, changed the acceptance of yoga throughout the world. Nothing was hidden, from the time he began to practice, to his illness and death. Even last night he was telling Abhijata (Mr. Iyengar's granddaughter), 'I have shown you all these things, now realize them for yourself.' What he has given cannot be encompassed by words. If a disciple is more developed, then that person will understand. What can be said in words, is that he was precious to us."  — Geeta Iyengar You can find more posts on Times Quotidian about … [Read more...]

Dispatch from India

Holi, Festival of Colors Hi Friends, Only on the drive back to Rishikesh this afternoon from Haridwar did I recall that my horoscope in the newspaper yesterday (which I read before departing on my-cross country journey to Rishikesh from Pune via taxi, plane, train, and jeep) advised that I should be careful of long distance travel and take special precautions when traveling by car. The International Yoga Festival at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram on the banks of the Ganges river in Rishikesh began this morning in true Indian form, with a change of schedule. As festival participants from around the globe arrived at the ashram, the infamous television yogi, Ramdev invited Swami Chidanand Saraswati (the spritual head of the ashram) to … [Read more...]

Razors Edge

The Katha Upanishad Recitation by Christopher Isherwood The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard. —Katha-Upanishad, 3.14 So begins Somerset Maugham's bestselling twentieth century novel The Razor's Edge (1944),  whose main character gives up a life of privilege in search of spiritual Enlightenment. Maugham himself visited Ramana ashram where he had a direct interaction with Ramana Maharshi in Tamil Nadu, India in 1938. But, it is said that Maugham received his inspiration and direct translation for this epigraph from Christopher Isherwood, with whom he had become acquainted through The Vedanta Society's Hollywood Hills center. This reading by Isherwood of the Katha … [Read more...]

Theory of Miracles

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Disposable Plastic At a party at the Edendale Grill in Silverlake shortly before Christmas I learned about the five vortexes of disposable plastic, vast as continents and indestructible, that swirl continuously in the world’s oceans. I was talking to a woman named Sara Bayles who, in the hope of drawing attention to the problem, collects plastic trash choked up by the sea each day on Santa Monica beach. The image of the vortexes seemed to echo, dreamlike, the armada of environmental alarms that have circulated below the surface of my emotional life since childhood. And yet, at the Edendale, I noticed that something had shifted. Confronted with new evidence of environmental degradation the familiar … [Read more...]

The 1008 Names of Vishnu

2009 was a year for auspicious beginnings and none more impressive than the installation and blessing of the new Patanjali murti at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles. It was an honor to be apart of this ceremony and particularly fun to see the community come together, re-up on some old friendships and eat some very tasy cake. — NC This post is in honor of Sri BKS Iyengar's 91st birthday, December 14, 1918. Patanjali Puja at IYILA The date, Sunday July 12, 2009 and hour, 5:30am had been chosen according to Indian astrology as most auspicious for the sanctification of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles and installation of its new Patanjali statue. Indeed, the stars did align for IYILA on that morning. Not only was … [Read more...]

New Yorker Yoga

From The New Yorker, May 4, 2009 — Illustrations by Anders Wenngren This is an animation and takes a minute to run. So please be patient and enjoy the fabulous yoga demonstration!  … [Read more...]


I never had the opportunity to work directly with Mr. Iyengar, but did spend many years studying with his student Dona Holleman, pictured here executing Vrschikasana. There is a kind of body knowledge that can only be transfered by being in the presence of the Guru, an absorption of experience fueled by unbroken attention. In the early days, when Mr. Iyengar had only a few sheep in the flock, circumstance allowed for daily hands on learning at the source. Much like Sri T. Krishnamacharya instructed the young BKS Iyengar, so did Mr. Iyengar teach Dona Holleman. It is truly extraordinary to have this photograph to show the continuity in the teaching. This photo was taken in the mid 1960's. Dona remains as supple and focused as … [Read more...]

Wisdom Work

These pictures were taken in June 2008, at Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India. This is Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar (Guruji), 90 years of age, assisting his student in the execution of the posture (asana) called Vrschikasana. Vrschik means a scorpion. In order to sting its victim the scorpion arches its tail above its back and then strikes beyond its head. This asana resembles that of a striking scorpion, hence the name. I am riveted to these pictures trying to appropriate for myself the adjustments Mr. Iyengar is administering to his student, Raya; the specific touch that would inspire the body and mind to strike, to form, the posture. At first viewing one can detect how Guruji is using his own … [Read more...]


Desire is the first datum of our conciousness; we are born into sympathy and antipathy, wishing and willing. Unconciously at first, then conciously we evaluate: “This is good, that is bad.” And a little later we discover obligation. “This being good, ought to be done; that being bad, ought not to be done.” – Aldous Huxley I return repeatedly to Aldous Huxley's Perennial Philosophy. It is a comprehensive compendium of metaphysical thought. It investigates topics ranging from, "Personality, Sanctity, Divne Incarnation" to "Good and Evil" to "Time and Eternity" to "Faith" and "Suffering". Excerpts from authors include Eckhart, William Law, Chuang Tzu, The Bhagavad Gita, Maitrayana Upanishad, Kabir, Rumi and St. John of the Cross. All of us, … [Read more...]


Paul Cabanis 2008   … [Read more...]

The Invocation to Patanjali

I have been a yoga practitioner since 1984. In the beginning, like many, I tried on different styles, but eventually settled into method of B.K.S. Iyengar. There will be many many posts to follow on the practice of yoga. But first things first. Here is the chant and translation that is recited before every class. The sound clip is of BKS Iyengar himself.   yogena cittasya padena vacam Yoga for consciousness, grammar for speech malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena medicine for the ills of the body; yopa karottam pravaram muninam he gave us these things the sage patañjalim pranjalir anato’smi Patañjali to whom I pay my respects. abahu purusakaram His upper body (arms) of human form, sankha chakrasi … [Read more...]