(10) The news begins to spread

Unfortunately, Iyengar was still not earning enough money from his yoga teaching to survive. But this did not deter him from what he saw as a necessity. Hungry or not he would continue with his strict and rigorous practice routine. Days would go by when he had no more than a cup of tea to sustain him. A plate of rice would have to be rationed out to last him for three days. At other times he would fill his belly with water from an outside tap just so that his stomach would feel full enough not to bother him for a while. That done, he would return to his practising. Nothing swayed him from his dedication to his chosen task: to become the most effective teacher and practitioner it was in him to be. The only alternative was to return to the Yogashala in Mysore and lick his wounds. He was not yet ready for that.

Slowly and gradually, the many hours of intense practice that Iyengar put in began to bear fruit. As his knowledge and understanding increased, so also did the clarity, acuity, perceptiveness and relevance of his instructions. His pupils noticed these things … and his reputation as an accomplished and effective teacher of yoga began to grow. Word of his skill as an instructor reached the authorities in charge of the Deccan Gymkhana and they duly showed their appreciation by extending his original six-month contract to three years. They also wanted him to teach more widely in a variety of the schools, colleges and physical education establishments that they oversaw around the city. This stability also allowed him to try to find other locations in which he could try his hand at teaching some of his own classes. It was still difficult to make a living, particularly because he was sometimes forced to cancel classes at the last moment when it turned out that one or another of the locations he was slated to use was suddenly unavailable because of some more important engagement. But his reputation for excellence eventually reached as far as Mumbai some 220 kilometres away. In 1954 he agreed to start a regular weekend class in the Bullabhai Desai Memorial Hall in that city even though it meant a six-hour train ride there, and then another six-hour one back in order to honour the commitment. But … this turned out to be one of the wisest decisions of his life. His Mumbai class was to prove possibly the most critical engagement of his career.