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Iyengar Yoga has become Pune’s global asana

The Iyengar institute was selected as the first recipient of the Prime Minister’s award for outstanding contribution towards the development of Yoga.

pune Updated: Jun 21, 2017 23:13 IST
prachi bari 
prachi bari 
Hindustan Times, Pune
Foreign students from Symbiosis International University performs yoga on the occasion of International Yoga Day in Pune (HT PHOTO)

It has been more than four decades since the Ramamani Iyengar memorial institute has been the home to many students from across the world. On the international yoga day, the institute was selected as the first recipient of the Prime Minister's award for outstanding contribution for the promotion and development of Yoga. Established on January 19, 1975 by BKS Iyengar, the world’s most influential yoga guru, the institute attracts students from across the world. Post his death on 20th August 2014, this institute is being run by his children Geeta, Prashant and his grandchildren Abhijata and Pandurang Rao.

Initially we thought that there will be lesser number of students post his death, but instead, we now have 2500 students a year. We have increased the number of classes to 54 classes per week and even foreigners are greatly interested now. Currently, we get about 70 to 80 students every month. Guruji came to Pune in 1934 from Karnataka. He was 18 when he began teaching yoga. Until his death, he has been teaching and learning yoga sadhana and promoting it throughout the world,” said Pandurang Rao, the secretary of the Institute.

Rao recalls that Guruji went to London for the first time after receiving an invitation from Yehudi Mehuni, the famous violinist in 1954. Guruji always used to say that he was born for yoga and will die doing yoga, he added.

The Iyengar institute follows the Patanjali Ashtang yoga, which was practised by Guruji. He had claimed that the yoga he used to practise was helpful in getting rid of various illnesses and began a deeper study ito determine which asana would help in eliminating threats from various diseases. Guruji would also consult doctors in order to understand the illnesses. In fact, doctors used to send patients to Guruji for learning yoga and getting a better lifestyle. Yoga, in the 50’s, was unknown to the common people and only the educated used to come to the institute. But now, it has changed as Guruji has developed many diverse styles of yoga in the last 45 years. Many patients who usually come to learn at the institute are already suffering from various ailments and he used to teach them different ‘aasanas’ to help cure them, informed Rao.

The institute now has four medical batches and a children’s batch where there are 150 students enrolled. The classes begin from 5.45 am until 7.10 pm every day.

Many foreigners are strict followers of the yoga stye and often have to wait for months to get a slot at the institute. Lynn Holt, who hails from Australia, have been going to the institute for many years.

“The first time I came here was in the year 2000. India is the home of yoga and this institute represents the best quality teaching. All practitioners prefer to come here to learn Yoga. Guruji is here in spirit and what he taught us is still being followed. It is an automatic choice for the people from the west to be here, to leave behind their responsibilities and completely dedicate a month for practice yoga and learning,” said Lynn.

“Guruji was always a student – this is the best example for us,” said Campion Poole, who hails from Canada and is part of the medical remedial yoga. “This is my third year at the institute. I have been learning and practising the Iyengar yoga style back in Canada and I missed meeting Guruji. Just being here boosts my spirit,” she added.

First Published: Jun 21, 2017 23:10 IST