What Is Iyengar Yoga?

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Old 20-Oct-2011
What Is Iyengar Yoga?

We all know enough about Yoga, donít we? Of course, we do. Donít we inflate and deflate our stomach forcefully for two minutes at a stretch, as if hammering at an elastic thing, we rub our fingernails together patiently waiting for the mere strands on our head to attain the title of crowning glory (never mind the important question of connection)? But is that all there is to Yoga? No; Yoga is in fact the practice of gaining absolute control over the physical, mental, spiritual, intellectual and emotional aspects of living and channelizing life force energy or Pran in the right direction. Not many of us would define Yoga in terms like these. If we know so little about Yoga itself, then there are chances we know nothing concrete about Iyengar Yoga too. All we know is that it derives its name from its founder, BKS Iyengar. We may not know how to perform it or even as to how it is different from other forms of Hatha Yoga. If you seek answers to questions about Iyengar Yoga, read on.

Iyengar Yoga

Who Is BKS Iyengar?
Before we learn what Iyengar yoga is, how it is different from other forms of yoga and how it is performed, we must know a little about the man who founded it, BKS Iyengar. Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (BKS) Iyengar was born on 14th December, 1918. At the age of 16, he was introduced to yoga by his Guru Sri T. Krishnamacharya. At the age of 18, he was sent to Pune, Maharashtra by his guru to teach Yoga as he spoke better English as compared to many of his other students. Till date, he is credited to be one of the foremost yoga teachers or Yogacharyas in the world, someone who has been practicing and teaching yoga for almost seventy five years. He has written many books on yoga Ė its practice and philosophy, and is the author of widely read books like Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama, and Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. He has also written several definitive yoga texts. Iyengar yoga centers, teaching his form of Hatha yoga are located throughout the world, and it is believed that millions of students practice Iyengar Yoga.

What Is Iyengar Yoga?
A form of Hatha Yoga, Iyengar yoga focuses 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. This discipline is considered a powerful tool to relieve the stresses of modern-day life, which in turn can help promote total physical and spiritual well-being. This form of yoga is known for its use of props, for instance, belts, blocks cushions, benches, and even sand bags, to act as aid when performing asanas. For all practical purposes, it is based entirely on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as enumerated by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, laying great stress on the development of strength, stamina, flexibility and balance, as well as concentration and meditation.

How Is It Different From Hatha Yoga?

We must not forget that all the different yoga styles derive from the same source, hatha yoga, but each of them lays stress on a different aspect. Some stress breathing, chanting, meditating, or moving fluidly from one position to another. Iyengar yoga emphasizes precise bodily alignment and the poses are generally held longer than in other styles of yoga. In Iyengar, you slowly move into a pose, hold it for a minute or so, and then rest for a few breaths before stretching into another. It is this slow pace and emphasis on detail that makes Iyengar yoga ideal for those recovering from an injury be it internal or external.

How To Do Iyengar Yoga?

Hereís how you can do Iyengar yoga:
  • Practice breath control or pranayama; according to Yogacharya Iyengar, it is breath that makes the difference between yoga and mere acrobatics. Not only is it a prerequisite for meditation, it ensures a steady supply of oxygen to the muscles and helps avoid breathlessness.
  • The major difference between Iyengar yoga and all other types of yoga is that Iyengar focuses on the proper sequences of postures; which postures comes after which. Thus, you should conduct a careful study on the sequence of asanas.
  • Since body alignment is of utmost importance where Iyengar yoga is concerned, almost every asana has several associated props. Learn about these various props, which are often recommended by most teachers of Iyengar Yoga.
  • Find yourself a reliable and well-known teacher of Iyengar Yoga Ė there is sure to be a centre of Iyengar Yoga in your vicinity. Not only will that instructor be able to teach you the proper execution of postures, the correct way to utilize the props and the best sequence to be followed, he or she will also inculcate in you the practice of concentration and meditation.

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