What is Iyengar Yoga?
Iyengar Yoga is an inspired and innovative approach to the classical Eastern discipline. It is particularly relevant to our Western culture as the basic principles of movement which it advocates are compatible with current developments in the field of physical therapy, kinesiology and other modern bodywork disciplines. Iyengar Yoga has been developed over a period of fifty years by B.K.S. Iyengar, author of Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama, The Tree of Yoga and, more recently, Light on Life.
How does Iyengar Yoga differ from other hatha yoga disciplines?
Iyengar Yoga is meditation in action. In the Iyengar system, special focus is placed on developing correct body alignment, stamina, strength and flexibility. Standing poses unique to this system of yoga build strong legs, increase general vitality and improve balance and coordination. Poses are individualized to each person's physical needs by teachers trained in anatomy and physiology. Only after many years of training do teachers become certified instructors. In Iyengar Yoga, everyday household items such as chairs, tables, doors and walls are used as props in remarkably innovative ways to increase strength and flexibility. The average person's home is already a mini gymnasium; expensive equipment need not be purchased or rented to exercise well. The self is explored through discovery and release of physical tension patterns and psychological resistances. As practice continues, a student's ability to relax and concentrate generally improves markedly, and his or her inner awareness is enhanced.
Why is it that Iyengar Yoga teachers always talk about precision and alignment in the poses?
Without attention to form, exercise can reinforce habitual misalignment. We tend to stretch from our more flexible areas and rely on our better developed muscle groups for strength. Iyengar Yoga encourages weak areas to strengthen and stiff areas to stretch, thus awakening and realigning the whole body. As the body moves into better alignment, less muscular work is required, and relaxation occurs naturally.