Posts Tagged ‘B.K.S. Iyengar’

Saddle Street Farm, Dorset, UK: April 10, 2018

July 9, 2018

The plan for this afternoon.

Keep your heels pressed firmly against the chair legs and then lift your pelvis so that it doesn’t drag. This is a chest opener, but while curving over the chair, in order to help maintain a healthy bone density squeeze your tailbone and grip the gluteal muscles onto the pelvis.

When there is no tall stool available, a chair and three bolsters works almost as well. Observe the difference between the two poses: Guruji has supported his chest so that it opens to the maximum.

© 2018 Bobby Clennell.

Lucienne Vidah

May 26, 2011

This is Lucienne Vidah, one of the twenty -three teachers at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Greater New York. She is wearing the new limited edition tee-shirt that I designed to commemorate the up-coming Yogathon being held at the Institute on Sunday June 5th. The drawings of B.K.S. Iyengar practicing were extrapolated from one of the sequences in my animated short Yantra. From Sirsasana, Guruji drops back into Viparita Dandasana, and then effortlessly moves into Eka Pada Viparita Dandasana.

© 2011 Bobby Clennell.

A tribute to B.K.S. Iyengar

November 7, 2010

I wrote this article for the Dec 2008 edition of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy on the occasion of Guruji’s nintieth birthday.



“The belief underlying yoga therapy is to enable the human system to function as efficiently, effectively, and naturally as it can. This natural process however, operates at its own rhythm and pace, and the pace may be slow”. B.K.S. Iyengar. B.K.S. Archive project. 2007. Published by Iyengar Yoga National Association United States.

Named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, and universally acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest living Yoga masters, B.K.S. Iyengar who celebrates his ninetieth birthday this year continues to live as he always has – simply, and in the service of others.

He rises early in the same modest house that he built 40 years ago and practices his pranayama. He then strolls across the narrow pathway that runs between his house and his yoga institute. If it is the beginning of the month, he lingers in the ground floor reception area to greet the influx of foreign students newly arrived. He then climbs the stairs to the asana hall for the first of his two regular daily asana practices. As many as fifty students on any given morning will already be in the hall for this, the designated time for group practice.

Guruji’s practice is varied, and it nearly always includes some back-bends. The students closest to him — mostly locals — are in place, ready to help him with whatever props he decides to use that day. Some of the deep supported back bends require that the heavy trestle be strategically placed close to the ceiling ropes. While he practices he also teaches those around him, effectively giving a private class — except that many in the room gather round to watch.

B.K.S. Iyengar made yoga accessible to hundreds of thousands of people. He challenged the long-held views of the traditionalists – that it was meant only for an elite few – and brought Yoga to men and women alike, whatever their social station. He teaches all students – the aged and the young, the infirm and the strong. Sometimes with props, with modifications, and myriad teaching strategies, his method benefits all.

Iyengar Yoga emphasizes precision of alignment. With progress, the practitioner learns to strive for meditation in action.  Asana, far from being only a physical pursuit, becomes a stepping-stone on the path, so clearly defined by Patanjali, to experience the universal divine within us.

His development of Yoga props – now ubiquitous in yoga studios throughout the world – revolutionized the art and science of Yoga. The other groundbreaking aspect of B.K.S. Iyengar’s teaching is in the area of Yoga as therapy. Through trial, error and persistence, and with his belief system rooted firmly in Vedic law and philosophy, he combines his considerable insight (many would say genius), with the healing power of Yoga to attend to the ills and diseases that beset humanity. Time and again he has demonstrated that conditions as far ranging as HIV/AIDS, cerebral palsy, high blood pressure, MS, sciatica, all manor of muscular skeletal injuries, congenital defects such as scoliosis, conditions afflicting the organic body, and psychological problems can all be addressed with Yoga.

The twice–weekly medical classes held at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, which are full of people suffering from various disorders, are a fertile training ground for Yogis seeking to understand the therapeutic aspects of Yoga. Senior teachers are taught ‘on their feet’ how to take patients through specially prescribed sequences. This may be the first time in their life a patient has learned to rest and be quiet.

The restorative poses, when intelligently sequenced and correctly propped have a profound effect on the body’s ability to heal. Still others are put through some very exacting asana, and it’s often hard for them. In one corner of the hall a woman groans in pain. Guruji runs to all, attends to all. His apparently stern exterior belies his compassionate center. He knows that if he appears ‘soft’, progress will be slow and “the pupil tends to take it easy.” Guruji appears to improvise on the spot after observing the patients body conditions, but his work is backed up by an encyclopedic knowledge of the body and it’s workings and his unparalleled knowledge of Yoga. Countless medical practitioners have beaten a path to his door to learn from him, and are chastened by the experience. Many more in the future will look to the work of this great man not only for inspiration, but also for the concrete practicalities that make up this body of knowledge.

As we begin to wake up to the limitations of allopathic medicine, only time will tell how significant this work is and how valuable it will be for humanity.

© 2008 Bobby Clennell.

September Issue

September 18, 2010

I always look forward to Diane von Furstenberg’s fashion shows. Before it begins, there is a tremendous air of expectation and excitement at her design studio. Runway shows are about marketing and promotion. They are a media event, a buzz, and to some degree, they are also theatre.

At Lincoln Center where the shows are held this year, there seem to be more people on the outside trying to get in, than there are ticket holders entering the building. People (journalists? Tourists? Fashion students?) have lined the path to the entranceway. Inside in the reception area, more people are milling around, some with glasses of wine. Still others are in lines. You are directed onto one of these lines – the wrong one as it turns out. You are one of the chosen few! You are ushered onto another line for ticket holders.

Now inside the auditorium, I look down toward the front row. I get my bearings from a mane of bright red hair. It belongs to Grace Codington, the creative director of Vogue magazine. She who stole the show of The September Issue, last year’s documentary cult hit, is already seated.  To her right sits Anna Wintour, the editor –in – chief of Vogue, and also star of The September Issue. Andre Leon Tally, one of the fashion industries most influential style setters, takes his place on her left.

Great excitement! Sarah Jessica Parker just arrived, surrounded by paparazzi, flash bulbs popping.

I can see Anderson Cooper. And there are fashion reporter Lynn Yaeger, and Suzie Menkes, fashion editor at the International Herald Tribune.

The lights go down and all eyes turn toward the illuminated entrance of the catwalk.

The models stride out and strut their stuff. The press is in the stands directly opposite the catwalk entrance. All lenses are trained on the models walking toward them before looping around to return to the back stage area.

The clothes are nothing short of fabulous. Diane has pulled off a particularly polished and exciting collection. The prints for which she is famous, are shown off to stunning advantage; in bold dramatic strokes, and combined with the sleek silhouettes of the clothes, they help to make this a truly great collection!

Along with her creative director, Yvan Mispeare, and to much applause, Diane takes a bow. Her granddaughter presents her with a bouquet of flowers, and the three walk off together.

And all too soon, it’s over. Outside, Bill Cunningham, fashion photographer and style hound for the New York Sunday Times, his bike padlocked to a tree, is taking pictures of the departing audience.

As always, the after- dinner party is a lot of fun with its high- concentration of creative energy. Whew! I’m fitting in with my black DVF ruffled blouse and leggings.

Illustration of Diane von Furstenberg ©2010 by Bobby Clennell

Meanwhile, my son Jake Clennell and husband Lindsey Clennell are in Pune. They sent these pictures of B.K.S. Iyengar who was the guest of honor at the annual Pune Ganesh Festival. You can see him here taking part in the puja with the priests. This special ceremony is undertaken to invoke Ganesh’s holy presence into the statue of Ganesh. Mantras are chanted. Offerings of are made of coconut, sweets, rice, flowers and coins. The statue is then paraded through the streets accompanied by devotional singing, drum beats, dancing and much fan-fare. The streets are very crowded, and are filled with boisterous devotees.

Ganesh, the elephant headed son of Shiva and Parvati, is the god of wisdom and prosperity. He is popularly worshipped as the remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked.

© 2010 Bobby Clennell. Photos © 2010 by Jake Clennell.