Abhijata Iyengar, “Can I be called an Iyengar Yoga Teacher?”

These are some notes I took on Abhijata’s presentation about BKS Iyengar’s legacy at the 100 Centenary Celebrations in Pune, December 2018. I cannot adequately put into words what Abhijata said, it was a very moving presentation and I hope at some point transcripts will become available to the public.

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What Is Iyengar Yoga?
Can I be called an Iyengar yoga teacher?
Can I do Justice to the Iyengar legacy?

Yoga is service.

I am not qualified to do justice to the Iyengar system. (She talked about compassion, and BKS Iyengar’s capacity for compassion.)

People say he was so harsh, some people said that BKS stood for ‘Beat Kick Shout’ but let me tell you what I know.

A rickshaw driver approached Guruji, he told him how blessed he was to see him in the flesh. Then he told Guruji he always wanted to study yoga. Guruji said, Go, go in now. But I don’t have any money. Who asked you for money? Guruji instructed the office to sign him up for classes at no charge.


Abhijata: If I teach a workshop and get paid a small amount, will I return when they invite me again?  No.  (There are emotional breaks in her voice).

There was a large middle age woman who had terrible pain and difficulty walking. Guruji spent so much time, strength and energy on this one student. I asked him, Why do you spend so much time on this one regular student? She was not special, she wasn’t a teacher or a family member, why waste your time and energy on one student? Guruji told me; You see one middle-age woman, I see a mother of children that need to be taken care of. If she can not stand, she can not cook, she can’t take care of her children, she can’t help her parents and she can’t satisfy her husband. If I relieve her suffering, just a little, I help her entire family.

She continues,

Guruji was celebrating Diwali at home. Diwali is the festival of diyas or deepas (lights). This five day festival marks the day demon Narakasura was defeated by Lord Krishna and has been celebrated across the country and all over the world by Hindus. It is equivalent to your Christmas. A man came to the door complaining of pain. He didn’t want to go to the hospital and asked if Guruji could help him. Guruji told him, “How wonderful you come for help on such an auspicious holiday” and took him to the practice hall to work with him.

A student knocked on my door at home. She told me she had pain and asked if I could help her. I told her the office was closed and she would have to go through the office to make an appointment.

Am I qualified to be an Iyengar yoga teacher? Am I qualified to carry on his legacy?  No.


(Voice breaks) I have resolved to change, to live up to his legacy.

About EssentialYoga Studio

Roberta Dell'Anno E-RYT 500, Certified Yoga for Scoliosis Trainer Owner EssentialYoga Studio. Roberta has been practicing yoga since 1988 and teaching yoga since 2004. She has studied extensively under master yoga teachers Patricia Walden, Zoë Stewart, Sri Arun H.S., Elise Browning Miller, and others. She completed a two year Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training program with Sr. Iyengar Teacher, Peentz Dubble in June 2017. Roberta has studied yoga at the Ramamani Iyengar Yoga Memorial Institute in Pune, India during June 2011, February 2014, attended Abhijata's 2-week intensive in Pune, India, December 2016 and BKS Iyengar's Centenary 10-day intensive taught by Prashantji & Geetaji, December 2018. She completed training and certification with Elise Browning Miller as a 'Yoga for Scoliosis' instructor in 2014, completed a 500 hour Hatha Yoga Certification program with AURA Wellness Center in 2005 and is registered with Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT 500. She has been a Certified Meditation Teacher since June 2007 and an Usui Reiki Practitioner since 1989. The studio provides individual & specialized privates, semi-privates, group private sessions, and yoga workshops. Roberta conducts local and out of town workshops. She specializes in yoga for scoliosis and back care. She uses props to help students and teachers of all levels transform their backbends, twists, standing and seated postures, as well as inversions like sarvangasana (shoulderstand). She also works with individuals who have physical challenges, specifically individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, CMT, Parkinson's Disease, scoliosis, and amputees in private, semi-private and group sessions.​​​
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1 Response to Abhijata Iyengar, “Can I be called an Iyengar Yoga Teacher?”

  1. It was a profoundly moving presentation and, on hearing her words, everyone in the room looked deeply into their own hearts. Thanks for these notes.

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