PUNE, India, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Indian yoga guru BKS Iyengar died Wednesday, Aug. 20, at the age of 95. One of the world's preeminent yoga teachers, Iyengar was at least partially to thank (or blame) for the proliferation of brightly colored, rolled-up mats in cities across the United States. But before yoga was big business, Iyengar was a dutiful practitioner and teacher, having trained in the meditative art since the age of 14.
Iyengar died at a hospital in Pune, India, shortly after being admitted for shortness of breath. His passing was announced on his website, the news accompanied by a picture and a quote from Iyengar: "I alway tell people, live happily and die majestically."
He began practicing and teaching yoga in the 1930s. After teaching world-famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin in 1952, the two struck a friendship and the musician bragged that his newly acquired yoga techniques had improved his playing. The publicity help thrust Iyengar into the limelight and his first of many books, Light on Yoga, published in 1966, quickly became an international best-seller, translated into 17 languages.
Iyengar ran his own yoga studio in Pune for more than two decades beginning in the 1970s. After a scooter accident resulted in a debilitating spinal injury, Iyengar devoted himself to teaching disabled people to practice yoga. He retired from teaching in 1984, but continued to travel the world promoting his books and the health-giving properties of yoga. His death inspired hundreds of thousands of tributes on Twitter, including one from Narendra Modi, the newly elected Indian prime minister.
Generations will remember Shri BKS Iyengar as a fine Guru, scholar & a stalwart who brought Yoga into the lives of many across the world.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 20, 2014
Sending love to Sri BKS Iyengar's family. With deep gratitude for this special man's life and influence on Yoga pic.twitter.com/gRqKXiKWj7— Ekhart Yoga (@EkhartYoga) August 20, 2014