What is Iyengar Yoga

What is yoga?

Most often in our western culture, when we think about yoga, we think about learning and practicing the physical yoga poses, or “asanas”, perhaps along with some breathing and meditation techniques. Practicing yoga helps us to become physically stronger and more flexible, and gives us tools for relaxing and reducing stress.

This is an excellent way to begin the study of yoga, although there is much more to it than that. Yoga is an entire system for developing our physical, mental, and spiritual health and well-being.

Yoga is one of the branches of classical philosophy in India, originating perhaps before 3000 BCE. It was codified by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras about 200 – 500 BCE.

The word “yoga” means “to yoke” or “unite”. We can think of yoga as the union of the different parts of the body working together as a healthy, cohesive unit; or the union of body, mind, and spirit; or as the union between the Individual self and the Divine. Yoga is all of these.

 

What is Iyengar yoga?

Iyengar Yoga is classical yoga based on the teachings of yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar. He began practicing yoga at the age of 14 to overcome severe health problems, and he started teaching at age 18. He passed away on August 20 2014, at the age of 95. His daughter Geeta, and his son Prashant, continue to teach at RIMYI (Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute) in Pune, India, as well as his granddaughter Abhijata.

A few key elements of Iyengar yoga

  • Learn to move the body into better alignment to enjoy greater health benefits and to develop greater self-awareness.
  • Standing poses are emphasized to build strength and stamina, develop more flexibility in all parts of the body, as well as develop better balance and coordination, and to increase vitality.
  • Props (mats, blankets, blocks, straps, etc.) are often used to accommodate individual needs, to facilitate better alignment with more ease.
  • Safe, systematic approach to learning the poses.
  • Rigorously trained teachers who are committed to excellence in teaching.