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What is Iyengar Yoga?

What is Iyengar Yoga?

woman practicing yoga on a pink yoga mat

Many reasons can stop us from trying out a new hobby or practice. One major reason is that a lot of us don’t feel physically fit to try something unfamiliar.

Adding a new practice into our routine can feel daunting, and sometimes physical activities like yoga can feel so out of our league that stepping into a class can immediately strike up fear.

The beauty of yoga is that this practice is not meant to exclude. No matter your physical abilities and yoga experience, there’s a place for everyone on the mat, even in Iyengar yoga.

Iyengar yoga may seem a bit daunting because it’s a deeply grounded practice that focuses on precision. But, this practice based on ancient teachings can change even a novice’s life if they allow it. 

What Is Iyengar Yoga?

Iyengar yoga is a type of Hatha yoga created in 1936 by B.K.S. Iyengar. He started practicing yoga to improve health issues and studied under the famous guru Krishnamacharya in Mysore, India. His method is now taught all over the world. 

How to Pronounce Iyengar Yoga

The pronunciation of Iyengar is ai-uhn-gaar.

What Does Iyengar Mean?

Iyengar yoga is based on the eight limbs of yoga described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. 

This type of yoga emphasizes the physical correct alignment of the body while executing specific yoga postures. Iyengar yoga is a more disciplined system than other yoga types. The movements are carefully planned and have timed sequences.

Since proper alignment is emphasized, yoga instructors often recommend using yoga props such as blocks and belts so that students can safely ease into the different postures. 

In Iyengar yoga, there are more than 200 asanas (body postures) and 14 types of pranayama (breath). The practice is broken down to allow students to advance from basic poses to more advanced poses.

Although strengthening and toning the body is a positive outcome of practicing this type of yoga, one of the main goals of Iyengar yoga is to promote physical, mental, and spiritual balance in the body and mind. 

Benefits Of Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar yoga builds strength, increases stability and flexibilityboosts vitality and energy levelsdecreases mental distressimproves mental health, and even improves physical conditions like lowering blood pressure and improving heart health

Is Iyengar Yoga Suitable for Beginners?

Yes, Iyengar yoga is suitable for beginners, and intermediate and advanced yoga practitioners will be challenged by it as well.

Can You Lose Weight Doing Iyengar Yoga?

Studies show that Iyengar yoga can offer psychological, physical, and social effects and increased stamina, leading to healthy weight loss

Does Iyengar Yoga Tone Your Body?

Studies show that the physical demand of holding poses in Iyengar yoga can help strengthen and tone your body and muscles

How Often Should You Do Iyengar Yoga?

You can start by practicing Iyengar yoga two to five times a week and building up to five or six sessions a week. 

How to Practice Iyengar Yoga

It would be best to practice under the tutelage of an Iyengar yoga teacher who has undergone rigorous training. They can clearly demonstrate the moves in a studio instead of you learning in online classes.

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What’s the Difference Between Vinyasa and Iyengar Yoga?

Iyengar yoga is about precision, detail, and focusing on body alignment. Each posture is held for a while, while in Vinyasa, stances are not held for an extended period of time, and the focus is on body flow. 

What Can I Expect From an Iyengar Yoga Class?

Classes start with students seated in a crossed-legged position (Sukhasana). Many students use foam support to lift the lower back. Practitioners will encourage students to be aware of the body while lifting the spine, opening the chest, and quietening the head. While doing this, everyone will chant “Om” three times.

Asanas practiced vary each week, but they’ll include standing, seated, forward, and backbend postures most of the time. Teachers will help students adjust their poses by either helping verbally or adjusting students with their hands or use of props like belts, straps, blocks, bolsters, bricks, chairs, and blankets. After the teacher brings the students through the sequence, the class ends with Savasana.

Savasana breaks down to “sava,” meaning corpse, and “Asana,” meaning posture. This final resting posture helps students travel inward to slow down the breath and still the mind. 

Iyengar Yoga Tips for Beginners

Although you can practice Iyengar yoga sequences at home, if you’re just starting this practice, it’s highly recommended that you learn it under the tutelage of a professional instructor in yoga classes.

An instructor with the proper certification will teach you the history of the postures, meditation, help with modifications before executing the full poses, and tips on avoiding injury.

They will ensure that you understand the foundation of the practice so that you don’t injure yourself when going through the different postures. 

The Bottom Line: Is Iyengar Yoga For Me?

If you’re looking to start a more disciplined practice, increase self-awareness and live in the present moment, Iyengar yoga is for you. 

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