Iyengar yoga founder dies at age 95

NEW DELHI (AFP) - BKS Iyengar, the yoga guru who helped take the ancient Indian spiritual practice to the rest of the world, died on Wednesday aged 95, his website said.

Iyengar started his yoga school in 1973 in the western city of Pune, developing a unique form of the practice that he said anyone could follow.

He trained hundreds of teachers to disseminate his approach, which uses props such as belts and ropes to help the novice practitioner to achieve the poses.

He wrote many books on yoga, a practice that dates back more than 2,000 years in Asia, but has in recent decades become hugely popular around the world.

He attracted many celebrity followers, among them violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who came across Iyengar before he became famous during a trip to Mumbai.

"Perhaps no one has done more than Mr Iyengar to bring yoga to the West," said the New York Times in a 2002 profile of the guru.

"Long before Christy Turlington was gracing magazine covers, decades before power yoga was a multimillion-dollar business, Mr Iyengar was teaching Americans, among others, the virtues of asanas and breath control."

Iyengar died early Wednesday in hospital after suffering kidney failure, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

His website carried a picture of Iyengar's smiling face beside a message that read: "I always tell people, 'live happily and die majestically' 14-Dec 1918-20 Aug 2014."

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a yoga lover, tweeted that he was "deeply saddened to know about Yogacharya (yoga teacher) BKS Iyengar's demise".

"Generations will remember Shri BKS Iyengar as a fine guru, scholar & a stalwart who brought yoga into the lives of many across the world," he tweeted.