Iyengar yoga is a type of yoga that was developed by B.K.S Iyengar - and also named after him. He was one of the people who was partly responsible for bringing the modern practice of yoga to the Western world.
B.K.S. Iyengar was born in 1918 in Bellur, India. B.K.S. Iyengar practiced yoga for over 85 years, but began his study under his guru, T. Krishnamacharya - also sometimes known as the Father of modern yoga. B.K.S Iyengar brought the practice of yoga to the western world in the 197’0’s and wrote the book Light on Yoga, which has been a book many yoga students across the world have studied for generations.
Iyengar yoga is identified by being similar to the classic Hatha yoga traditions, but with lots of attention on the technical alignment and proper posing. This helps keep the mind drawn inward, but also connected to reality.
Iyengar yoga focuses on three different aspects - timing, alignment, and sequencing. In particular; timing, the poses are held for long periods of time. You are encouraged in Iyengar yoga to find stability in a pose, and only then, intensify the depth of your posture. This will help your strength and flexibility. Alignment typically means to stay in the yoga pose while still maintaining your body's boundaries, and not pushing it past that.
In Iyengar yoga, you may often use props to assist with your asanas while reducing the risk of injury. Alignment can help to bring balance to your body and mind. Finally, sequencing means the order of poses are practiced. This allows a structured progression and helps your body to open up to some of the deeper poses.
You’ll be in good hands in your first Iyengar class - teachers have to undergo a very in-depth three-year training before they are allowed to lead a class. This is due to the very strong emphasis Iyengar has on the body's proper alignment.
Iyengar was developed after B.K.S Iyengar started practicing yoga as a child due to poor health. He found that with a daily practice, the health benefits in his body were evident. This started his knowledge of anatomy and gave him a therapeutic approach to yoga practice.
Iyengar advocates the use of props such as blocks and straps to help you gain the correct alignment for your individual body. Some of the unique benefits to Iyengar include better physical health, better posture, tension release, and boosted energy, which is why it is suitable for everybody.
Iyengar yoga typically gives an in-depth demonstration of poses, and helps to teach users both the doing and how to do the asanas. Teachers will demonstrate poses, to help show pupils the correct alignment and shapes. This helps you to be safe in your practice and gives a better understanding of the pose from the start. Be prepared to learn and listen to instructions!
As mentioned before, Iyengar is an alignment-based practice. You may be asked to align your body in new or different ways. This is so you can examine how your body's alignment is, and gives a holistic edge to your practice. Your teacher may provide verbal or hands-on adjustments to guide you into the correct alignment for each pose.
Progression is important in Iyengar yoga, and when you start out there can be a lot to learn. To excel at Iyengar, it expects a knowledge of sequencing, physiology, asana and pranayama techniques as well as an understanding of the philosophical aspects of yoga. If you have never tried Iyengar before, make sure you practice a beginners class, and only move up a class if you are ready.
Iyengar classes typically include inversions, such as shoulder stands and headstands. It’s important to listen to your instructor and attempt these poses safely, keeping your body aligned. You’ll work up to these poses by strengthening your arms and shoulders in easier classes first.
If you’re struggling to get into the poses, use props! Iyengar yoga advocates the use of props - in fact, B.K.S Iyengar was the originator of many of the props we still use in yoga classes today. Straps, bolsters, and bricks are just a few of the props you might find in an Iyengar yoga class. You can use props to deepen your poses, and help your understanding of the pose and alignment, or to help you get into a certain pose. Props help you to explore poses in new and different ways.
Iyengar yoga is one of the most popular types of yoga out there. The popularity has spread through the teachings of B.K.S Iyengar and his family. There are teachers across the world who specialize in Iyengar.
Enjoy these Iyengar yoga classes, right now, at home, or on the go with the YogaDownload app!
Introduction to Iyengar Yoga with Dana Hanizeski
Iyengar Yoga: Deep Release for the Hips & Legs with Dana Hanizeski
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