As a student of the now late B.K.S. Iyengar, I can only say that his life's accomplishments are enormous. He has had a tremendous impact on the popularization of yoga in the world and especially in the West.
My own fascination with Iyengar yoga began when, as an ex actor/dancer, I was studying at the Laban Institute of Movement studies in NYC and walked into an Iyengar class to "relax my mind." Well, I was flexible and able-bodied and could do many of the poses, but the teacher gave me a belt and aligned my body, and I was never the same. I felt awake. I felt grounded and present and that was the beginning of what was to become a great joy in my life.
B.K.S. Iyengar was an incredibly open, curious, engaged, and enthusiastic human being. He practiced every day until the last weeks of his life. He practiced in the same hall as the rest of us. And he was extremely observant, even playful, with a sharp mind and memory. For example, at the beginning of one of my many trips to Pune, India, to study with him and his children, he remarked that I was a bit thin (I had only lost about three pounds since he had seen me the previous year), but he noticed this. I don't think he was pleased either.
He noticed the little things in our bodies or behaviors that indicated that some bigger thing (injury, illness) might be on the way to fruition. For instance, if someone’s hand was not properly pressing the floor in downward dog pose, he might feel that a shoulder problem was on the way. Or if a person was not extending or opening from the center of the body to the periphery, or if certain areas seemed compressed, or hollow, depression might be on the way. He was often spot-on in his observations. But most importantly he taught us to observe ourselves. To listen, to stay open and curious. The body had a story to tell, and there was more to embodiment than the body. Practicing with B.K.S. Iyengar was like being in the middle of an unfolding mystery - a mystery that was unfolding in real time. And surprises and even genuine astonishment would often accompany each day's practice.
His invention and development of yoga props was absolutely brilliant. He was an innovator who innovated in order to help people come into a more harmonious relationship with their own bodies, hearts and minds. He could get any person and body to have an experience of harmony and of life regardless of age or afflictions.
B.K.S. Iyengar lit a fire in me. And that is probably the greatest thing a teacher can do. He, and his daughter, Geeta, and son, Prashant, taught me to ask questions of myself in the practice. And he taught me by example that one can never lose the joy and love of learning. And one can continue to learn and grow, and stay playful, open and receptive until the last very last breath.
W.B. Yeats (who was a student of yoga) said: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." B.K.S. Iyengar lit my fire - and I am eternally grateful.