Iyengar Yoga: Focusing On Alignment
Iyengar yoga refers to a type of practice that is grounded on the eight disciplines of yoga. Its main focus though is on asanas (poses) and pranayama (breathing) to develop strength, stability and mobility.
It was developed by and named after the yogini B.K.S. Iyengar in 1936. He is one of the most popular leading yoga teachers in the world. B.K.S. Iyengar is well known not just for teaching yoga, but also for writing books on the practice and on philosophy. Some of his best known-books are Light on Pranayama and Light on Yoga.
Iyengar yoga is practiced by millions of students, with many classes offered all throughout the world.
The Focus Of Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar yoga focuses on achieving proper body alignment through asanas and pranayama. To achieve this, students should take note of three elements:
-Technique. This form of yoga requires proper alignment, so students learn to finely adjust their bodies until reaching the proper pose.
-Sequence. Unlike other forms of yoga, there is no fixed sequence as to how the asanas and pranayama are practiced. Classes are flexible and would depend on the yoga teacher or the expertise of the students attending class.
-Timing. The length of time spent for each pose is different from other forms of yoga. Postures are held longer than usual to promote awareness and focus.
Practicing Iyengar Yoga
This form of yoga incorporates around 200 yoga poses and 14 types of breathing variations. These asanas and pranayama range from basic to complex, allowing students to progress by starting with easy poses and moving to more advanced ones over time.
It puts emphasis on standing poses, which build a strong foundation required for advanced poses. Standing poses strengthen the legs, improve coordination and balance and promote proper blood circulation.
Poses are executed in an anatomically correct manner so that practitioners do not feel pain or injury when doing them. Because of this focus, Iyengar yoga has pioneered the use of props – such as blocks, chairs, blankets and belts – during class.
Props are used, but not necessary for every posture. They are only needed to help students deeply understand and experience a specific asana or achieve proper alignment of the body. Props also encourage continuous practice by providing support to elderly students or those suffering from illness, stiffness or injury.
Because this form of yoga focuses on form and alignment, Iyengar yoga classes are highly verbal. Unlike experiential forms of yoga where students are left to explore and achieve certain poses at their own pace, Iyengar yoga teachers usually go around class to check and actively correct poses until students achieve proper form.
Is Iyengar Yoga Good For Me?
Iyengar is good for anyone – regardless if you are a beginner who wants to try yoga for the first time or a seasoned yoga practitioner. Poses and breathing range from easy to difficult, making it perfect for any practice level. Because proper timing is followed, there will definitely be time for you to practice each asana making sure that the body is ready for more complex ones. This practice also prepares you for more intense types like Bikram or Ashtanga.
It is good to note that Iyengar yoga does not just focus on proper body alignment or exact execution of asanas. Prolonged practice helps improve your mental and spiritual health as well. If you are interested, many centers or studios around the world offer Iyengar yoga. Find one near you, today.
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