Today Iyengar yoga is considered one of the world’s most popular kinds of yoga. It is practiced not only in India but also in other countries. And there are reasons for that.
The founder of the teaching is Bellur Krishnamachar Sundarārāja Iyengar (better known as B.K.S. Iyengar) who did everything to enable everyone to practice yoga, regardless of the level of physical shape, age, gender, flexibility and plasticity of the body.
In this article, we will share with you what Iyengar yoga is, what its features and benefits are.
What Is Iyengar Yoga?
Iyengar yoga is a kind of Hatha yoga, which, however, has many fundamental differences from the basic teaching. The main feature of this kind of yoga is a long and careful alignment of the asanas.
The performance of the asana is static. A practitioner “freezes” in a pose, continuing to work continuously on taking the most correct position for this pose. The performance of each asana in the teachings of Iyengar is subject to strict rules. Moreover, the asanas should be performed in a specific sequence.
The uniqueness of Iyengar yoga is an individual approach to each practitioner. Exercises are selected individually, depending on the state of health, the level of physical shape, body characteristics, the endurance of each practitioner.
In his teaching, Iyengar developed a system of exercises using different props, which is especially important for beginners, as well as for people with health problems.
Iyengar yoga practitioners usually use such props as:
The use of these props reduces the load on the muscles or joints, helping to build the correct posture.
This type of yoga is suitable for anybody, even for the elderly and people with health problems.
Regular Iyengar yoga classes often give a therapeutic effect – help to treat joints problems and the musculoskeletal system diseases.
Iyengar Yoga Features
- The main tools of Iyengar yoga practice are asanas and pranayamas. One of the distinguishing features of this type of yoga is that asanas are performed statically. That is, when taking a certain pose, it is maintained for a long time, during which a practitioner seems to freeze. Ligaments, muscles and all internal organs undergo therapeutic effects of asanas.
- Asanas should be performed strictly according to the rules and in a certain sequence. This is the only way to achieve the proper healing effect.
- Iyengar yoga is suitable for both beginners and those who have a yoga practice experience. The uniqueness of this yoga style is that depending on the level of training, health and individual characteristics of a practitioner, suitable asanas are selected for him or her. Even people with a low level of flexibility and physical endurance can start classes, gradually increasing the load.
- Iyengar yoga has 200 asanas. Each of them was personally tested by the founder of this yoga style.
- Since everyone has different degrees of training, individual physiological characteristics, and some even have health problems, Iyengar suggested using different props. Pillows, chairs, blankets, belts and other tools allow you to give the body the optimal position for performing asanas.
- In practice, a special place is given to yoga healing therapy. Iyengar yoga can help alleviate the condition of the practitioner with colds, colitis, gastritis, problems with the musculoskeletal system (various deformities of the spine, stoop) and other diseases. B.K.S. Iyengar tested the effectiveness of this method of healing on himself. Asanas helped Iyengar to get rid of his own diseases. Therefore he believed that yoga it the true path to health.
- In this yoga style, attention should be paid not only to asanas and pranayamas but also to the study of the philosophy and moral and ethical principles of the teaching. To achieve these goals, to cure diseases, to get rid of negative emotions, it is necessary to change your worldview, rethink your system of values and views.
- Another unique feature of Iyengar yoga is the development of a separate program exclusively for women. Due to the fact that the female body has unique physiological characteristics, and the emotional sphere of women is more sensitive than men, the Iyengar program for women is based on a special asana complex. By practicing these special asanas, a woman will learn to listen to her inner feelings and desires. In addition, she will be able to preserve the youth of her body and skin as long as possible.
- This yoga style pays special attention to inverted poses.
- Iyengar yoga uniforms relaxation and stretching of the body during staying in asana.
- During yoga class, the yoga teacher usually provides a detailed explanation of each asana.
The above-mentioned features of Iyengar yoga speak about the individual approach to each individual person during the classes, which makes this practice, in comparison to others, more accessible.
What Are Iyengar Yoga Benefits?
Compared to classical yoga, Iyengar yoga has some advantages. One of the most important is that this type of yoga allows you to quickly achieve the correct performance of asanas (thanks to the props), relieving excessive stress from the body.
Other benefits of Iyengar yoga relate mainly to the effects on the human body, among them such as:
- strengthening the musculoskeletal system;
- the improvement in cardiac performance;
- normalization of the nervous system;
- strengthening of immunity;
- getting rid of back pain and other muscle aches;
- stabilization of a hormonal level;
- increase of endurance, concentration, flexibility.
In addition to the above, this type of yoga increases stress resistance and helps to eliminate bad habits.
Iyengar Yoga Levels Of Difficulty
Depending on how experienced a practitioner is, this type of yoga uses different programs with appropriate levels of difficulty:
This level is designed for beginners. Practitioners learn to practice relaxation, asanas in a sitting and standing position. The introduction level prepares practitioners for the inverted poses.
This level includes a more thorough practice of asanas in sitting and standing positions and also inverted poses. Then there is a transition to more complex exercises – headstand and shoulders stand. Practitioners prepare for the practice of pranayama.
The most difficult asanas and pranayama are performed on this level.
According to the Iyengar method, a conscious approach to the world around us is continuous meditation. This means that entering into a meditative state you need to live in it constantly. Exactly the same approach applies to Iyengar yoga. According to Iyengar, meditation is not the end of all asanas, it accompanies all asanas, helping to free the mind during the yoga practice and through the purity of consciousness to achieve awareness.
Iyengar Yoga For Women
There is a separate school of Iyengar yoga for women. Its author is B.K.S. Iyengar’s daughter – Geeta S. Iyengar. Since her childhood, she attended yoga classes, conducted by her father, and was well versed in both theory and practice.
Geeta Iyengar identified important cycles in a woman’s life, such as:
In accordance with these periods, she selected special asanas for yoga practice.
There is an assumption that too intense yoga classes due to the impact of yoga practice on the hormonal background lead a woman to early menopause. For this reason, Geeta Iyengar advised practicing yoga gradually, without overloading. Also, she found it necessary to choose the right asanas in special periods, such as conception or pregnancy. She said that some asanas can prevent conception or can even cause a miscarriage.
The Bottom Line
Due to the fact that Iyengar yoga is available to almost everyone without restrictions, it is currently one of the most popular types of yoga in the world. Iyengar yoga classes are a great opportunity to develop physical endurance, improve your body, develop coordination and flexibility. A very important result of Iyengar yoga practice is getting rid of various negative emotions, depression, and anxiety. As a result, mental balance and positive emotions are acquired.