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What Is Iyengar Yoga?
Iyengar yoga is a method of Hatha yoga formulated by yoga philosopher B.K.S. Iyengar in the mid-twentieth century. The teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar are characterized by a focus on proper alignment in a sequence of yoga postures that bring clarity of mind and healing to the body. The eight limbs of yoga form the basis of the philosophy behind the Iyengar method.
In an Iyengar class, instructors encourage the use of props, like straps, blankets, and blocks, to assist and support yogis. Hands-on adjustments and specific alignment cues are standard in Iyengar yoga classes, and asanas (poses) can be held for up to a minute, with a focus on Pranayama (breathwork). Every Iyengar class is different but will likely include standing poses, inversions, and backbends. There are Iyengar yoga institutes in India, the US, and many other countries throughout the world.
Iyengar’s critically acclaimed book Light on Yoga, published in 1966, is a comprehensive anthology of classic yoga poses and philosophy. Light on Yoga is inspired by and dedicated to the ancient Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
4 Benefits of Iyengar Yoga
The benefits of Iyengar yoga impact the mind and body thanks to the careful sequencing and development of the practice by certified Iyengar yoga teachers. Here are a few of the core benefits of the practice:
- Improved body alignment: Iyengar yoga teachers prioritize small, progressive steps toward correct alignment over deepening a pose out of alignment. This focus on precision helps adjust the spine, relieve pain, and optimize muscle and joint health.
- Holistic healing: Iyengar yoga is about more than just physical postures. This style of yoga focuses on living a yogic lifestyle free of harm to the self and others. Studying and practicing the eight limbs of yoga and the philosophies therein result in a better understanding of yogic living and increased well-being.
- Increased proprioception: Practicing the classical yoga poses with a focus on alignment, precision, and breath quality helps yogis perceive their bodies in time and space in a more accurate and non-distorted way.
- Supported postures for everybody: Iyengar yoga encourages the use of props, helping beginner yogis enter specific postures in proper alignment with full support.