Firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga, as expounded by Patanjali in the 2500-year old The Yoga Sutras, Iyengar Yoga is propagated by BKS Iyengar who began his teaching in 1936 after studying in Mysore with yoga guru Krisnamacharya.
He began his pursuit from the time of his life when he was trying to recover from tuberculosis. His passion and perseverance paved the way to making Iyengar Yoga as one of the most widely practiced styles of yoga in the world today.
He developed the practice over a period of 75 years by the Yogacharya after intensive, disciplined research. He still practices daily – exploring, studying, writing, and teaching.
The term “Iyengar Yoga” was coined by his students to distinguish their Guruji’s approach from other styles of yoga. He, however, has described his yoga as “Patanjali Yoga” and says, “I have no right to brand my practices or teachings as Iyengar Yoga. My pupils, who follow me, call it Iyengar Yoga. The only thing I am doing is to bring out the in-depth, the hidden qualities of Yoga to the awareness of you all. What I do is pure, authentic traditional Yoga.
It is wrong to differentiate traditional yoga from Iyengar Yoga, as it is also not fair to brand Yoga, as Raja-yoga, Hatha-yoga, Laya-yoga, Kundalini-yoga, Taraka-yoga and so forth. There is no distinction between one Yoga and another. Yoga, like God is one.”
Particular emphasis is given to alignment and precision in every posture by using different props such as belts, blocks, and blankets. Aside from the many benefits that any yoga practice gives you, the use of props helps achieve better precision, puts less stress on your muscles, and is particularly helpful if you’re recovering from an injury.
The approach of using props furthered the popularity of this practice by allowing people of varying ages, levels of health, and fitness to enjoy its benefits. The practice is progressive; building a stable foundation before attempting more demanding work.
Beginners start with basic standing yoga poses and are gradually introduced to a fuller range of sitting and reclining yoga postures, forward extensions, inversions, twists, back bends, and arm balances. This gradual approach ensures safety and better achievement of the proper postures.
Each posture and each gradual step develops the body in different yet reciprocal ways and has different qualities – grounding, energizing, strengthening, stimulating, calming. Each and every level devotes time to relaxation.
Iyengar yoga has been described as meditation in action. Practicing the yoga postures with awareness has an integrating effect and works to harmonize mind and body. Over time, you will achieve the ability to face the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of contemporary life with strength, vitality, mobility, concentration, awareness, and equanimity.