Leading Indian Yoga Guru Yogacharya B.K.S Iyengar Dies at 95

B.K.S. Iyengar
Yogacharya performs yoga at his yoga institute in Pune, India, in 2007.India Today Group / Getty Images file

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An Indian yoga guru credited with making the practice popular in the United States has died at age 95, India’s prime minister said Wednesday. Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar created his own form of yoga, wrote 14 books on the subject, and opened studios across 72 countries, according to The Associated Press. His death was confirmed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who tweeted to his 5.82 million followers that he was "deeply saddened." He added: "Generations will remember Shri B.K.S. Iyengar as a fine guru, scholar and a stalwart who brought yoga into the lives of many across the world."

Iyengar was born to a poor family in the village of Bellur, in the Indian state of Karnataka, the AP reported. He suffered multiple illnesses including typhoid and tuberculosis until a relative introduced him to yoga when he was 15 in an attempt to increase his strength. He was hospitalized with a kidney problem earlier this month, Indian media reported. Iyengar was featured in TIME's list of most influential people in 2004. He was widely credited with establishing yoga as part of mainstream Western life, where it has since become a multi-billion dollar industry.


— Alexander Smith and Lisa Tolin

The Associated Press contributed to this report.