Iyengar yoga pays close attention to the alignment and posture of your body during each pose you hold during the routine. The practice is systematically designed to boost flexibility, strength, stability, and improve self-awareness.
A popular form of yoga that is practiced all over the world, Iyengar yoga is a form of Hatha yoga that involves performing physical techniques, concentrating on the efficacy of the posture (asana), and focusing on specific breathing techniques (pranayama).
Origin of Iyengar Yoga
Established in the 1970s, Iyengar yoga was founded by one of the greatest yoga gurus (Yogacharya) of all time, B.K.S Iyengar. Yogacharya Iyengar devised around 200 yoga poses and 14 types of breathing techniques (pranayama) for this practice.
Iyengar yoga integrates three vital characteristics of the human being — the mind, body, and emotions. It is common to use everyday objects such as blocks, blankets, wood, and belts during the practice when performing the asanas.
The application of props promotes balance and provides a safe practice for the student as they work to minimize the risk of injury and strain during poses.
How Is Iyengar Yoga Performed?
Iyengar yoga sessions follow specific sequences or flow and are known to focus on body alignment. Similar to Ashtanga yoga, Iyengar yoga is based on the eight limbs of yoga devised by Sage Patanjali.
The eight limbs of yoga include:
- Yama: Moral discipline
- Niyama: Positive perception
- Asanas: Posture
- Pranayama: Breathing techniques
- Pratyahara: Withdrawal of senses
- Dharana: Focus and concentration
- Dhyana: Meditation
- Samadhi: Bliss or Enlightenment
1. Structural Alignment
Iyengar yoga is performed by aligning the physical body with the various asanas performed during the yoga session.
2. Technique, Sequence, Timing
Iyengar yoga primarily focuses on the following three elements:
- Technique: Body alignment with the correct asana to focus on breathing (pranayama).
- Sequence: Streamlined sequences of both asanas and pranayama. There is a specific breathing technique required for every posture (asana).
- Timing: The amount of time spent on practicing and performing each posture and breathing technique.
3. Use of Props
Props used during this practice increase efficiency of the poses and postures. The simple aids that we use every day support the body during the yoga routine and reduce excess pressure or strain when practicing the asana.
Benefits of Iyengar Yoga
Regular practice of Iyengar yoga promotes overall fitness and well-being. This practice not only keeps you physically in shape but also helps you manage life’s obstacles with an optimistic outlook.
Additional benefits of Iyengar yoga include the following:
- Reduces stress related to your lifestyle
- Promotes physical and mental well-being
- Alleviates lifestyle-related ailments and disorders
- Helps with chronic conditions such as backaches and headaches
- Controls hypertension
- Works to heal mental ailments such as insomnia and clinical depression
- Promotes healthy sleep patterns
- Manages menopause in women
- Cures immunodeficiency
Is Iyengar Yoga the Right Fit for You?
Iyengar yoga is a form of Hatha yoga with a strong focus on precision, detail, and alignment during the postures. A good practice for beginners, Iyengar yoga has been carefully designed for yogis to engage in a safe practice of asanas and pranayamas.
Make sure to consult your doctor or an expert before engaging in Iyengar yoga. If you suffer from any chronic ailments or other health conditions, specific asanas will be taught according to factors such as the type of ailment, state of mind, etc.
1. What is Iyengar yoga?
Iyengar yoga is a practice that focuses on the alignment of your body during postures and the use of props to support your body during the sequential flow of the routine.
2. What are the benefits of Iyengar yoga?
As mentioned above, some of the benefits that come with Iyengar yoga include physical and mental health boosts, healthy sleeping patterns, and stress management.
3. How can you become an Iyengar yoga instructor?
If you are looking to become a yoga instructor, speak to your local yoga studio and look out for teacher training sessions in the type of yoga you would like to teach.
Updated by Siya Rajan on 05/18/2018