Lyenger yoga style is based on the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar; it involves bringing all your body into perfect alignment. Props like blocks, straps and yoga blankets are used in assisting students to master proper form in this type of yoga.
Iyengar yoga focuses on holding a posture for a long time instead of changing quickly from one yoga pose to another. This yoga style has been very useful in developing modern yoga asana.
B.K.S. Iyengar, born 14th December 1918 started yoga at an early age in order to improve his health when he contracted tuberculosis. He studies in Mysore, India, with Krishnamacharya, his brother-in-law. Iyengar started teaching yoga in 1936; his method became popular as American and European students began practicing yoga in the 1960s.
He founded his principal school in 1975, the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, Pune, India, which was named for his wife. His center became famous for practicing yoga. Iyengar was one of the first instructors to teach westerners yoga, so his influence on modern asana cannot be overstated. He died at age 95 on the 20th August 2014. The RIMYI is now administered by his daughter, Geeta, and son, Prashant.
The Iyengar yoga Approach: Alignment and Props
Lyengar yoga is a type of hatha yoga focused mainly on the proper physical alignment of the body during yoga poses. This method requires teaching student to do each yoga pose the right way, believing that perfect poses can be achieved from continuous practice.
This yoga style believes that achieving body balance will reflect in one’s mind. Using props was one of the major innovations of Iyengar. Common items you will find in yoga studios are blocks, blankets, pillows, straps, and bolsters. Using props in yoga is a new idea, and it originated directly from Iyengar.
The aim of using props during a workout is to allow students to achieve the best body alignment while their bodies are becoming flexible.
Case Study: How to Use Props in Iyengar Tradition
Let’s observe the triangle pose as an example. In this workout, you place your hand on the floor outside your foot in front.
But what if doing this pose is difficult, like it’s impossible for you to place your hand on the floor without compromising how you open your chest; which is a key feature of this pose. In Iyengar, aligning the left shoulder over the right shoulder should be facilitated by using a block beneath the right arm till the body gains flexibility, and there is no longer need to use the block.
This is just an example to describe how Iyengar’s method makes yoga workouts easy to execute and more acceptable to a lot of people. The props are used to help the body adapt to proper alignment, and it can be used according to the student’s taste.
More About Iyengar Yoga: No Flow
In yoga, the transition of fluid from one pose to another alongside breathing (either inhale or exhale) refers to Vinyasa flow. Iyenda yoga involved minor vinyasa flow, the poses are held for more extended periods in order to perfect the alignment. Thus, the Iyengar method of yoga is less intense as some yoga types like Ashtanga.
Nevertheless, maintain a pose for a longer time can be strenuous, and it can help improve strength and flexibility. One of the reasons why people like this style of yoga is due to the absence of vinyasa flow. People who lack the physical ability to carry out a flowing style will find Iyengar interesting. Thus, Iyengar is one of the most practiced yoga styles in the world.
Besides developing and making his methods popular, written works of Iyengar yoga are highly respected and seen as classic yoga texts. The “Light on Yoga” is one of his best books that describes and illustrates several yoga poses and breathing techniques, it was first published in 1966.
He also has important books like “Light on Pranayama,” which emphasizes on breathing, and “Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,” this book translates and interprets ancient Yoga Sutras; this was where Iyengar got the philosophical knowledge for his yoga style. The last book he wrote, “Light on Life” talked about the mental and spiritual aspects of yoga.
Is Iyengar yoga style for You?
Have at the back of your mind that Iyengar class is not that simple, even though it is adaptable to several levels. Many advance yogis who want to improve their alignment find this style appealing.
You will also find this style interesting if you are technical, meticulous, like subtle movements in the body, and have an interest in anatomy. Even if you are new to yoga, you will appreciate how this style is taught and how props are used to facilitate proper alignment.