My Yoga Teacher
Posted on Jun 30, 2021
Iyengar yoga is the practice of pranayama and asanas that's combined to emphasize body alignment, planned sequencing and timing, and the use of props like blocks, straps, bolsters, and benches to support the body.
All types of yoga work through physical postures, meditation, and pranayama to bring balance to the body, mind, and spirit. And Iyengar yoga is no different.
Iyengar yoga uses precise body alignment supported by various props to give practitioners confidence and courage. It's a methodical yoga practice that is accessible and beneficial to just about anyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or health issues.
Iyengar, unlike Vinyasa, focuses on poses that are held for an extended time instead of flowing through each pose quickly. In fact, there's no flow to Iyengar yoga. Instead, practitioners hold each pose for a length of time, focusing on perfecting alignment.
The term "Iyengar yoga" is what students of B.K.S. Iyengar began calling his style of yoga in the 1970s to differentiate it from the other styles of yoga.
Iyengar was born in India in December 1918 and learned yoga from his brother-in-law, T. Krishnamacharya to improve his health. Iyengar started teaching yoga himself in 1936 but it wasn't until 1975 that the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute was founded in Pune, India. This was the precursor to the founding of the Iyengar Yoga Institute in 1982, in London.
Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers must complete rigorous training to earn the right to describe their instruction as Iyengar Yoga.
Iyengar yoga, like all styles of yoga, offers several benefits. Here are a few of the predominant benefits you can expect:
Iyengar yoga prioritizes proper alignment over moving deeper into a pose. This emphasis on alignment helps practitioners relieve pain, adjusts the spine, and improves muscle and joint health.
This style of yoga is particularly beneficial with it comes to increasing body awareness, or proprioception. Thanks to the focus on precise alignment and breathing, practitioners are able to better understand how their bodies take up and move in space in a more accurate way.
Iyengar yoga goes beyond postures. This practice extends into living in a yogic way, meaning living a life that's free from self-harm and harm to others. There's an expectation that practitioners will study and live yoga philosophy and the eight limbs of yoga.
Iyengar yoga focuses on three things:
This Iyengar yoga series comes from the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York:
Each of these poses should be held for up to a minute or longer. If you're pressed for time, prioritize repetitions over holding the poses for time.
Here are the key differences between Iyengar yoga and Vinyasa yoga:
Here are the key differences between Iyengar and Ashtanga:
Anyone can practice Iyengar. Thanks to the focus on alignment and the use of props, it's perfect for those of us who want to start practicing yoga but might have physical limitations. Of course, that doesn't mean Iyengar is easy. You'll probably still break a sweat and start feeling the burn in your muscles.
If you're interested in starting your Iyengar practice, we invite you to sign up for a free two-week trial of myYogaTeacher. With myYogaTeacher, you'll get access to 40+ live online classes every single day, each led by highly experienced Indian teachers.
Each Iyengar Yoga class follows a unique sequence that focuses on one or two parts of the body. You'll learn to pay close attention to anatomical details and alignment of each pose as well as how to modify each pose with props like belts, blocks, pillows, and more to cultivate strength, flexibility, stability, and awareness.
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