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The Yoga Guru and the Violinist

B.K.S. Iyengar, who died today, worked closely with musician Yehudi Menuhin

Sara Ivry
August 20, 2014
Yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar, who died today at 95. (The Indian Express)
Yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar, who died today at 95. (The Indian Express)

Though seemingly ubiquitous now in cities across America, yoga was once a rare practice in the West. Its popularity outside of India owes a debt to the late violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who met the yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar, in 1952 in what was then called Bombay, after the American-born musician was challenged to a headstand by his host, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Scheduled to last five minutes, their meeting stretched to three and a half hours, as Iyengar led Menuhin through a series of asanas—poses—designed to help him achieve greater physical and mental balance.

Iyengar, who died today at age 95, and Menuhin developed a decades-long friendship. The musician became an ambassador for Iyengar, helping introduce him and his work throughout Europe and adding yoga to the curriculum of his music school.

According to the New York Times, Menuhin later said yoga changed the way he played violin.

Sara Ivry is the host of Vox Tablet, Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast. Follow her on Twitter@saraivry.