Bekir Algan, 64, passed away from an unexpected heart attack on Tuesday, September 26, 2017, in Austin, Texas. Bekir was an Austin treasure who will be sorely missed by his yoga students, friends, family, and loved ones. Bekir was Turkish by birth, educated in Europe and the US, and ultimately settled in Austin.
Bekir Algan was born in the town of Urla in Izmir Provence in Turkey. At an early age, he was recognized as an exceptionally bright student and was selected to attend high school at the prestigious United World College of the Atlantic in south Wales, UK, presided over at that time by Lord Mountbatten. Bekir returned to Turkey and studied at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1976. He traveled to the US and studied at Clemson University, receiving his MSc in 1977, after which he earned a PhD in structural engineering in 1982 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Bekir entered the workforce in Texas, working in architectural engineering in Houston and San Antonio as an expert in the design of earthquake resistant structures. After a knee injury that required surgery, Bekir applied his structural knowledge to his rehabilitation, and found his calling.
Bekir moved to Austin, Texas and in 1988 co-founded Austin Yoga. He taught yoga for more than 30 years to hundreds of students and certified dozens of teachers over the decades. Bekir applied the same discipline that earned him a PhD to this new career, integrating the best of East with West across the vast spectrum of mind, body and spirit. Bekir designed and marketed several unique yoga props, many of which are used in yoga studios around the country. His teachings in yoga were inspired by varied and deep relationships with masters in their fields and heavily influenced by the rich diversity of the Iyengar community. Bekir’s wisdom was rooted in brilliant Vedanta teachings of Swami Dayananda at Arsha Vidya Gurukulum. Love (Ashk) and Light (Nur) in his life flowed endlessly from the timeless Sufi teachings of Serif Baba of Rifai Marufi Order: creating sparks in the hearts of kindred spirits. He further incorporated the healing herbs and practices of Ayurveda into his practice.
The impact Bekir had on his students and friends can not be overstated. He was a force of nature – fearless and commanding. His sense of humor endeared him to many. His unique “Bekirisms” brought laughs to his students even after hearing them a hundred times and in the most difficult poses. Bekir’s students describe his classes as infuriating at times, his monologues “endless”, but his gap toothed smile and a wink would bring the teachings back to the main purpose – lose the ego, let go of attachments, and embrace the integrity of the pose.
Wherever Bekir went, he developed lifelong relationships, and was well known in the restaurant scene where he organized group meals with his students and friends. Bekir loved a good bargain, spending countless hours researching deals on everything from automobiles and tire installation prices to the relative price of cauliflower or red snapper at Whole Foods, Central Market, and Sprouts.
Bekir created a loving community around him in which his presence will live on. Bekir is survived by his brother, Levent Algan, nieces, Nil Algan Bilen, Banu Algan Tetik, Fulya Algan Özemre, nephew, Fatih Algan, all living in Turkey, and wife, Susan Alexander.
Bekir created a loving community around him in which his presence will live on.
A celebration of Bekir’s life is planned for November 11th, 2017 at 4:30PM at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden.
Bekir Algan was truly kind – every day his smile lightened the hearts of all those he encountered. In his honor and in his memory, let us go forward with acts of kindness to others and remember his teachings. Namaste.