About Iyengar yoga

Yoga is an ancient art and philosophy. Iyengar yoga is named after the world famous teacher, Mr. B.K.S. Iyengar. Mr. Iyengar has studied, practiced and taught yoga for over 70 years and he is credited with explaining the philosophy that underlies yoga so that it is accessible and for refining the techniques that make this system unique.

Iyengar yoga springs from Astanga yoga as described in the ancient text, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Astanga means eight limbs and refers to the practices that one must undertake to attain what is described as peace of mind and conscious living. Iyengar yoga approaches this discipline with a practice of asanas (poses), which develop strength and flexibility, and require focus and concentration. After practicing the asanas the practitioner finds that the various aspects of his body and mental/emotional state become balanced. Among other things the practitioner’s posture improves, range of motion is increased and the thoracic cavity opens so that breathing becomes easier and more full and he becomes more conscious of habitual movements and patterns. As this occurs the practitioner’s mind also begins to establish a balance and to become quiet.

The Iyengar method emphasizes precision and alignment. When the poses are executed correctly, asana practice simultaneously develops flexibility, strength, and relaxation. The attention to detail not only makes the poses more effective and safe, but also trains the mind to focus and to penetrate deeper into the body. This in turn helps teach the practitioner to achieve greater stability in the pose, which then generates a more deeply concentrated and calmer mind and greater sense of self-understanding.

The method also makes use of props to assist the practitioner in performing asana so that there is less strain, and to help him sustain the pose for a longer period of time and to create better alignment. Props include such items as blankets, belts, blocks, bolsters and various other aides. Through the use of basic props and Iyengar’s alignment principles, the yoga practice is accessible to anyone regardless of age or ability.

The Iyengar method is also noted for its sequencing. Poses can be sequenced to produce different effects; energizing, calming, strengthening or for special conditions such as pregnancy or high blood pressure. Teachers are trained to give individual instructions and adjustments to students as necessary. They are also trained to make accommodations for students who have knee, back, shoulder or neck issues.