When BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois reunited after 40 years

As we wait more news of BKS Iyengar’s health, I have been thinking about the moment when, after 40 years, he and Pattabhi Jois were reunited around Guruji’s (meaning here Jois) 90th birthday. 

There are a few different pieces that captured the moment. One was Namarupa — link to that issue (which you can buy) is right here.

Another is Australian Yoga Life, which has the article online right here. A little excerpt:

Within minutes two of the most celebrated hatha yoga masters of our time, both affectionately called ‘Guruji’ by their students, having not seen each other for more than 40 years, were laughing and hugging as they swapped stories of the past and of their own beloved guru, Shri T Krishnamacharya.

“For anybody that was there on that day it was incredible,” says Alex Medin, who orchestrated the reunion at Pattabhi Jois’s home in Mysore, South India. “There was this vibrant feeling in the air of tremendous healing.”

“All of us that were present just felt so happy. Guruji (Pattabhi Jois) was so happy, Iyengar was so happy. They were just radiant. They were hugging like brothers, like two brothers who had been away from each other…and suddenly they come together and express their love for each other. It’s a beautiful thing.”

David Swenson is quoted a few times in that piece, along with some other Ashtanga teachers.

There probably are a few different versions of why the two yoga teachers hadn’t seen each other in so long; the Australian Yoga Life piece puts the rivalry between Ashtanga and Iyengar more on the students than on the two teachers — though it seems to suggest that in some ways that rivalry is natural, given the differences in the practices that stem from one source — Krishnamacharya. (I have heard “Light on Yoga” jokingly called “Dark on Yoga.”)

The main “first hand” story I’ve heard is that both pulled out all their finest jewelry and gold and made sure they had all their “bling” on — a detail that I think is supposed to remind us of their humanity, that there probably was a combination of pride and trepidation heading into that meeting.

With Iyengar as sick as he seems to be, remembering his humanity seems to me to be appropriate at this time — while also remembering all he’s done that is larger than life.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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