Arunji (Sri H.S. Arun)
For the past three and a half decades, Arunji has practised and taught the art and science of Yoga. Known for his wit and humour, Arunji teaches this intense and sacred subject with a lightness that is known to anyone who has witnessed his teaching, but that with keeping the intensity of the practice.
Born in Sringeri, in South India in 1954, Sri Arun grew up in Bangalore. When he was teaching at a Yoga centre in Bangalore in the year 1979 he met Guruji B.K.S.Iyengar. Arunji became Guruji’s disciple and received several intensive classes which were held at the Iyengar Institute in Pune. He also honed his practice with both Prashantji and Geetaji Iyengar.
Over the years, Arunji has developed his own way of sharing what he has learnt from his gurus and through his own extensive practice. In the past 35 years, thousands of students have come from all over the world to learn from him at Prashant Yogashraya, his yoga centre in Bangalore, where he teaches along with his wife, Srimāthāji.
He has also recently opened his centre for practice called Prashant Yogashraya Ramanagara Center, where he conducts week long yoga workshops three times a year, and several other weekend workshops during the year.
Geetaji, the eldest daughter of Guruji B. K. S. Iyengar, was credited with advancing yoga for women. She studied yoga with her father from an early age. After graduating high school in 1961, she began substituting for her father when he was away on international teaching tours. Since her father’s retirement in 1984, she was co-director, with her brother Prashant S. Iyengar (b. 1949), of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) as well as undertaking her own international teaching tours.
Geetaji adapted the yoga practice to the specific requirements of women. Specific asanas, pranayama and sequences are given for different stages in a woman’s life including menstruation, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause. She explained how yoga is used as a method to unify body and mind, and strengthen the respiratory system, circulatory system, nervous system, muscles, epidermis, and the mind.
In addition to teaching at RIMYI, Geetaji periodically toured worldwide to teach yoga in its traditional sense. Geetaji was totally devoted to yoga and Guruji. When asked by somebody – how do you feel being in your fathers shadow, she replied – I am not in my fathers shadow, I am in his light. Just as she had spoken in the past that she would not die until her fathers 100th birth anniversary celebration, Geetaji passed away on 16 December 2018, two days after her father’s birth centenary, aged 74. But Geetaji lives on through the lamp she lit in thousands of yoga practitioners all over the world. And we are grateful to her for all that she gave.
Theresa Rowland was the founder of Studio Yoga and the Studio Yoga Teacher Education Program. A long-time student and assistant of Gabriella Giubilaro and Patricia Walden, she traveled to India 6 times for extended periods of study at the Iyengar Institute. Initiated into yoga by her mother, she taught for over 50 years and was certified as a Junior Intermediate III Iyengar Yoga Instructor. She was grateful for the many voices that guided her through the years; the voices of Kofi Busia, Lois Steinberg, Stephanie Quirk, Aadil Palkhivala, John Schumacher, Ramanand Patel, Mary Dunn, Joan White, Victor Van Kooten, Dona Holleman, Arthur Kilmurray, Father Joe Pereira, Judith Lasater, H.S. Arun, Christian & June Pisano, and so many others. The depth, support and the inspiration of the teachers and students in the yoga community made her life fulfilling. On September 10, 2019, Theresa quietly passed away.
“It is what we do – we help others. Learn this so you can help others.
Keep learning, keep helping. It is what we do.”
Sri Prashant Iyengar, or as I like to call him Prashantji is Guruji’s only son and the director of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI). Instead of giving you facts about his life I would rather share with you my experience. It is when I first went to Pune to study at RIMYI back in 2013 that I first learned about Prashantji. For some reason, even though I had been studying Iyengar Yoga for quite a few years by then (since 1999) I felt that I had never heard about Prashantji. Ever. Which was very strange to me at first, but then I think I understood why later.
When I took my first class with Prashantji I felt confused, I felt lost, I felt like I had no idea of what I was doing. But at the same time I was blown away. I knew in my heart that a new door was opening. Like my points of reference thus far were no longer my guiding lights, and so I had no choice but to start anew; the only thing to do was to be a raw beginner all over again.
Prashantji talked to us about “Yog”, the whole of it, the other parts of it, the 99% of it we rarely hear about. Leaving the “Yogaaaa” to our western teachers, which they obsess about so well and teach us so judiciously. As we did the “usual Asanas” he talked to us about the cosmos, the Mahabharata, the sutras, philosophy, Patanjali, he talked about mental dynamics, about the breath and the cavities in the body, he talked about biochemical dynamics, he talked to us about life.
Not a single mention of the knee caps, not a peep about the shoulder blades, no information on alignment. And I felt I was reborn. I felt that I was being gifted the possibility of maybe getting a glimpse of the big picture. Prashantji gave me the gift of Yoga. And for that I am incredibly touched and grateful.
Thank you Prashantji, for giving me the opportunity to turn my world upside down, and especially for seeing the value in doing so.