Iyengar Yoga

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Iyengar Yoga
FounderB. K. S. Iyengar
Established1970s
Derivative formsAnusara Yoga, Forrest Yoga
Practice emphases
great attention to detail and precise focus on body alignment often with the use of props
Related schools
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
A student performing Uttitha Trikonasana, triangle pose, one of the basic standing poses in Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga, named after and developed by B. K. S. Iyengar, and described in his bestselling 1966 book Light on Yoga, is a form of Hatha yoga that has an emphasis on detail, precision and alignment in the performance of posture (asana) and breath control (pranayama). The development of strength, mobility and stability is gained through the asanas.

B.K.S. Iyengar has systematised over 200 classical yoga poses and 14 different types of Pranayama (with variations of many of them) ranging from the basic to advanced. This helps ensure that students progress gradually by moving from simple poses to more complex ones and develop their mind, body and spirit through a step-by-step approach.[1]

Iyengar Yoga often makes use of props, such as belts, blocks, and blankets, as aids in performing asanas (postures). The props enable students to perform the asanas correctly, minimising the risk of injury or strain, and making the postures accessible to both young and old.

Iyengar Yoga is firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as expounded by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras.

Focus[edit]

Legs constrained with belts and a foam block in a therapeutic Iyengar Yoga pose

Iyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha yoga in which there is a focus on the structural alignment of the physical body through the development of asanas. Through the practice of a system of asanas, it aims to unite the body, mind and spirit for health and well-being. The discipline is considered by its practitioners to be a powerful tool to relieve the stresses of modern-day life, in turn helping to promote total physical and spiritual well-being.[2]

Iyengar differs from other styles of yoga by three key elements: technique, sequence and timing.

  • Technique refers to the precision of the body alignment and the performance of pranayama.
  • Sequence means the sequences in which asanas and breathing exercises are practiced. Following the specific sequence is important in achieving the desired result, because only the combination of certain poses and breathing techniques can ensure the expected positive effect.
  • Timing is the third key element which defines the time spent in each pose or pranayama.[1]

Iyengar Yoga is characterized by great attention to detail and precise focus on body alignment. Iyengar pioneered the use of "props" such as cushions, benches, blocks, straps and sand bags, which function as aids allowing beginners to experience asanas more easily and fully than might otherwise be possible without several years of practice. Props also allow elderly, injured, tired or ill students to enjoy the benefits of many asanas via fully "supported" methods requiring less muscular effort.[3]

Unlike more experiential approaches where students are encouraged to independently "find their way" to the asanas by imitating the teacher, an Iyengar Yoga class is precise, with misalignments and errors actively explained and corrected.[4]

According to the Iyengar Yoga Institute, Iyengar yoga "emphasises precision and alignment",[4] and prioritises correct movement over quantity, i.e. moving a little in the right direction is preferred to moving more but in other directions. Postures are held for a relatively long period compared to other schools of yoga; this allows the muscles to relax and lengthen, and encourages awareness in the pose. Props including belts, blocks and blankets are freely used to assist students in correct working in the asanas.[4]

Beginners are introduced early on to standing poses, executed with careful attention to detail. For example, in Trikonasana, the feet are often jumped apart to a wide stance, the forward foot is turned out, and the centre of the forward heel is exactly aligned with the centre of the arch of the other foot.[5]

Iyengar teachers have traditionally completed at least two years of rigorous training for the introductory certificate. They may complete subsequent intermediate levels and senior levels of certification, potentially entailing a decade or more of training. The system is being replaced from 2019, with a requirement for at least six years of practice before assessment.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b What is Iyengar yoga
  2. ^ B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga FAQ, 2006
  3. ^ Goldberg, Michelle (23 August 2014). "Iyengar and the Invention of Yoga". The New Yorker.
  4. ^ a b c "Why Iyengar Yoga?". London: Iyengar Yoga Institute. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  5. ^ Jones, Todd. "Illustrate Different Yoga Methods with Trikonasana". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Teacher Training". Iyengar Yoga (UK). Retrieved 6 February 2019.

External links[edit]