Geeta Iyengar and her lasting impact on yoga

Image description: Head shot of Geeta Iyengar, an older Indian woman,  smiling, dark hair tied back, bindi on forehead, white v-necked wrap-style top, blurred background.

With the death of Geeta Iyengar, age 74, on December 16th, yoga lost another giant. Geeta was the daughter of renowned yoga guru BKS Iyengar, and co-director of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India.

My foundational yoga training took place under the instruction of Karen Major at Yoga Centre London, in London, Ontario.  Apart from the first class teaching, Karen regularly visited the Ramamani Institute as part of her ongoing teacher training as a certified instructor of Iyengar yoga. After her trips to India she always came back with stories of Iyengar himself, Geeta, her brother Prashant, and more recently  Geeta’s niece, Abhijata.

These family members dedicated themselves to extending Iyengar’s yoga legacy by practicing his methods and upholding his strict attention to the form and detail of the yoga asanas.

Indeed, Geeta was teaching classes and giving talks at Balewadi Stadium from December 3-14 as part of the celebrations surrounding the centary of her father’s birth.  One of the senior teachers attending the celebrations recounted a story in which someone asked Geeta what it was like to live in her father’s shadow. Geeta replied that she didn’t live in his shadow, she lived in his light.

In addition to being devoted to her father and his teachings, Geeta was a significant figure in bringing yoga to women and helping them develop their own practice. She wrote Yoga: A Gem for Women, as a guide for women, making specific practice suggestions for menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.

Geeta’s death came as a shock to the yoga community and Pune and to the Iyengar yoga community more generally.  To read more about her lasting impact and her legacy, see The Times of India, “Geeta Iyengar, renowned yoga exponent, passes away at 74″ and The Hindu,
“Yoga exponent Geeta Iyengar, daughter of B.K.S. Iyengar, passes away.”

I will be forever grateful to B.K.S. Iyengar, Geeta Iyengar, Karen Major, and all the other fantastic Iyengar instructors whose wisdom has benefitted my practice since 2000 when I was first introduced to this style of yoga.