The basic motto of any and every yoga is to help you nourish your body to the fullest so you can achieve your highest potential. Similarly, Iyengar yoga is no different than other varieties of yogas in its main principle, but there are some fascinating differences in this yoga which helps to set it apart from the rest of the yoga.
Moreover, Iyengar yoga focuses deeply on body alignment and anatomical posture which helps those who have postural difficulties as well. You might be thinking that this yoga may be very strenuous but trust me with the help of props you will be able to do amazing asanas (yoga poses) in no time!
Origin of Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar yoga is a form of hatha yoga that was founded by B. K.S. Iyengar in 1952. He started this yoga by teaching one pupil at a time. His first student was the violinist Yehudi Menuhin and it was the fame of Menuhin which helped Iyengar to get the spotlight even in the western world.
He was a man who wished to help even the elderly people to do some yoga, and he did succeed in his goal by establishing an institution Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, named in memory of his wife.
Similarly, Iyengar also founded a yoga institution in a foreign land which contributed a lot to the spreading of Iyengar yoga all around the globe. The first of many institutes abroad, the Iyengar Yoga Institute (IYI) in Maida Vale, London, in 1983 helped to spread the concept of yoga in general.
Moreover, till date, many Iyengar yoga institutions have been established worldwide and few of them are in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechia, Chile, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and New Zealand.
What Makes Iyengar Yoga Different?
This yoga invented by guru Iyengar does not believe in letting the students to “find their way”, rather this yoga encourages the students to follow a correct posture and make a correct move in “a guided way” towards the right direction.
Instead of focusing on quantity (i.e. total movement done by the muscles of the body), this yoga directs it’s attention to the quality of movement and proper alignment of the body while doing such movement.
Iyengar yoga focuses on three major components of yoga and these components help to acquire structure alignment of the body through the practice of yoga poses.
The 3 Components of Iyengar Yoga
The three main components in Iyengar Yoga are:
Precise movement and accurate posture to achieve the desired result
Unlike other yoga practices, in Iyengar yoga, you are expected to do yoga in a particular sequence and any disturbance in the sequence is thought to do more harm than good.
3. Use of Props
Much classical yoga in Hindu culture is done without props; however, in this yoga props like belts, blocks and blankets are freely used to assist students while doing the yoga poses.
Moreover, Iyengar yoga could be of ample benefits mainly to those who cannot do normal yoga.
This yoga targets the elderly, physically deformed, ill and even recovering patients to get into the correct anatomical posture and have proper alignment of the body.
Yoga Poses of Iyengar Yoga
Iyengar yoga is divided into many courses to get complete benefits. This yoga consists of a set of yoga poses that needs to be done at the primary level (i.e. the beginners level) and then you can level up your standard by climbing to elementary level and then up to the advance level. Some yoga poses that you need to learn before starting the main course are:
- Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
- Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)
- Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
- Virabhadrasana I and II (Warrior Pose I and II)
- Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)
- Halasana (Plough Pose)
- Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
These are the basic forms of hatha yoga that help you to balance your body against gravity and most importantly plays a crucial role in releasing your muscles.
Benefits of Iyengar Yoga
There are numerous benefits to doing Iyengar Yoga. For years, people all of the world have practised this form of yoga and have experienced wonders. Here are some basic benefits of Iyengar Yoga.
1. Improve Posture
One of the best health benefits of this yoga is that it helps you to be in good posture. Many poses of this yoga consist of alignment and usage of props which propels your body to be in its natural anatomical position.
To be in a good posture you need to learn to balance your body against gravity and this health benefit is surely something that Iyengar yoga provides you.
2. Increases Flexibility
Well, no one is born with the supernatural ability to twist and turn our body to many postures; therefore, the more you try the more you are going to make your body flexible.
The same principle applies in Iyengar yoga as it helps to improve the elasticity of your ligaments and tendon making it easier for you to gain a more flexible and lighter body.
3. Toned Muscle
In the world where Instagram models are looked up as the ideal body type holding personality, it’s no wonder many of us wish we had a body as they have, don’t we? Well, the goal of getting a perfectly toned body is not at all impossible and with the practice of this yoga, you will reach your destination in no time.
Honestly, this yoga consists of a set of yoga poses which should be held in for a long period of time and this practice will eventually play a very important role in toning your muscle in the right shape.
4. Calming Your Mind
While doing any exercise your body releases endorphins which are the stress releasing hormones. These hormones have a soothing effect in your brains as well which ultimately helps you to feel calm, cool and relaxed.
Moreover, Iyengar yoga expects you to hold a specific posture for a specific amount of time and during the period of holding on to this posture your mind will be aligned to your body and will be in the present focusing on the body position.
This effect, in turn, helps you to reach a meditative state as you will have your focus on one specific thing only.
5. Pain Relief
As I have talked earlier, the release of endorphins not only helps to calm your mind but also helps to relieve you from all your bodily pain. Additionally, many of the physical pain of the body is due to the stiffening of the body, and as this yoga pose helps to improve the flexibility and elasticity, you will surely have less pain.
6. Strengthen Your Immune System
This yoga consists of yoga poses which help to mobilize all the parts of your body which improves the blood circulation everywhere and also helps to improve the lymphatic flow. As the lymphatic flow improves, the waste materials of all the tissue are collected and drained.
Similarly, the proliferation of Beta cells and other lymphocytic cells are encouraged which helps to eliminate minor diseases from the body and fight off most of the harmful bacteria.
7. Improves Breathing
The sets of yoga poses in Iyengar yoga consists of posture alignment, proper sequence, use of props and also deep breathing. Inhaling and exhaling in the right way while doing the poses not only helps to improve your lung function but also prevents your muscle from going to anaerobic respiration.
This yoga improves the muscle tone of all the muscles including the muscles in the thoracic region like the diaphragm. Improved muscle strength and quality also play a pivotal role in improving respiration in general.
8. Decreases Risk of accidents
Unlike other yoga, Iyengar yoga is done with the aid of props. The usage of props helps to stabilize the body and also plays an important role to give proper support while doing a difficult posture.
Iyengar yoga is one of the best yogas which will not only help you to get a flexible and toned body but also help you to have a proper posture which in turn makes you healthy and stabilizes all the vital organs in its correct alignment.
Therefore, if you have a problem with your physical posture, doing Iyengar yoga is the best decision that you will ever make!
(Last Updated On: May 8, 2020)