If you are going to liken yoga to academic institutions, Iyengar would be an Ivy League school. Iyengar yoga is a popular form of yoga that is known for its precise focus on structural alignment. It was created by B.K.S. Iyengar, who is a highly respected yoga master who first learned yoga in his country of India as a way to heal himself from tuberculosis. In the process of developing his own system of yoga, he was also the first yoga teacher to incorporate props, like belts, cushions, chairs, and blocks into his regular teachings. Iyengar still teaches his style of yoga today in his Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India with his son and daughter. Mr. Iyengar is also the author of one of the most widely-read and highly-esteemed yoga texts, Light on Yoga.
Iyengar yoga has a multitude of benefits that are all intended to promote physical and spiritual well-being. One of the primary benefits of this style of yoga is to reduce the stresses of modern day life. In addition, Mr. Iyengar has developed specific practices for those who suffer from certain ailments and conditions like back pain, depression, high blood pressure and a compromised immune system. Also, both the teacher and practitioner develop a profound understanding of proper alignment thereby increasing their knowledge of how the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments and fascia work collectively together.
What to Expect
Since the Iyengar method is so precise, contact an Iyengar teacher before you decide to test out a class. In addition, since Iyengar teachers must go through 2-5 years of serious study before being allowed to teach this method, there may be limited instructors in your area. But once you find a teacher who is certified, you can be sure that they possess the necessary qualifications to teach this very serious method of yoga. When you take a class, expect a lot of verbal and physical adjustments from your teacher. In other words, if you prefer to be left alone as you down-dog, you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone.
Iyengar yoga builds a tremendous amount of strength in the body, particularly in the leg muscles since much attention is made on standing postures. Improved balance, coordination and circulation are also consequences of this practice.
Even though it is an advanced practice through its comprehensive study, it is a wonderful method for beginners or for anyone who is healing from an injury. In fact, many individuals who are injured are encouraged to learn the Iyengar method as part of their healing therapy plan.
Is it for You?
Iyengar yoga is most appealing for current yoga practitioners or students who seek to advance their own practice by learning more about the technical, meticulous and anatomical aspects of the human body. But this method holds appeal for anyone who is interested in gaining a very thorough understanding of how the subtle movements of the body impart their effects on the entire body.
To watch an Iyengar yoga class in action, watch this video.
October 5th, 2008