"Yoga is made for everyone. You do not need to be an expert or at the peak of physical fitness. . . . It helps integrate the mental and physical plane, and it offers a sense of inner and outer balance, or alignment. True alignment means that the inner mind reaches every cell and fiber of the body," B.K.S. Iyengar has repeated many times to students, young and old, healthy and sick, confident or stressed-out. Today there are 180 Iyengar Yoga Institutes in 40 countries, yet few people know a lot about his life.
This informative documentary by Jake Clennell shines a light on Iyengar's life and philosophy. It opens with a celebration for his 90th birthday party in 2008. We then learn he was born in 1918 in India and began teaching yoga at the age of 17. He is acclaimed for identifying and teaching yoga postures as a form of exercise and breath training, often using props to achieve precise alignments.
As we watch this master teacher with his students in this documentary, we witness both the tender and the tough sides of his personality. But lest we judge him as being too hard on those who come to him for renewal, Iyengar makes it clear that his toughness is rooted in his reverence for dedication, thoroughness, and deeply focused attentiveness.
Additional interviews with Iyengar's daughter, granddaughter, a long-time student who is a priest, and a man who learned yoga in prison reveal the influence of his teaching. A final fascinating dimension of this guru of the path to holistic health is that both Christian and Islamic believers have used his techniques in their rituals, which only goes to prove the universality of much of what he teaches.