Why do yoga?
The most well-known benefits are improved physical strength and flexibility, but studies show that regular yoga practice can improve a very wide range of physical and mental ailments. Click here for an article that describes 21 evidence-based benefits of practicing yoga.
How is Iyengar yoga unique?
“Iyengar” yoga is named for B.K.S. Iyengar (1918-2014), who was sent to study with famous yogi Sri T. Krishnamacharya at the age of 16. His state of health was weak from having suffered malaria, typhoid, and tuberculosis as a child. The way his guru taught him yoga was to show him a pose and leave him to figure it out on his own. At 18, Mr. Iyengar was sent to Pune, India to teach yoga, where he later established an institute. Students currently travel there from around the world to deepen their practice.
Mr. Iyengar dedicated his life to making yoga available to every person “regardless of age or infirmity”. He innovated the use of props (blocks, blankets, straps, ropes on the wall, et cetera) to assist beginning students in experiencing freedom and ease in the poses despite having little body awareness and tight or weak muscles. Advanced students sometimes also use props to develop and fine-tune their meditative capacity in the poses.
Mr. Iyengar called what he taught “yoga”. In 2005 at the Iyengar National Conference in Estes Park, Colorado he made a clear statement about all the many “styles” of yoga these days: “It is all yoga”. It was his students, many decades earlier, who recognized the value of his unique teaching methods who coined the term “Iyengar Yoga”.
There is a very specific methodology that certified Iyengar Yoga teachers follow. A minimum of six years of study in this method is required prior to applying for certification. This ensures that students can attend an Iyengar Yoga class anywhere in the world and have confidence in the teacher’s expertise.
1. Clear directives
You will know what to do—no confusion!
When teaching a new pose (or a new refinement of the pose) the teacher will demonstrate it. It is often easier when you can see what to do.
We do not rush. You will have enough time to get into the pose and hold it while practicing a steady, smooth breath. This method is safe, steady, and helps build a habit of mindful movement.
3. Sequencing of poses
Safely ease into the practice, build up, then cool down.
Careful sequencing is also used to emphasize a specific concept or to prepare the class for a challenging pose.
4. Use of Props (blocks, blankets, chairs, rope wall, etc)
Props offer support to help beginners find correct alignment and stability.
They help seasoned practitioners discover a deeper understanding of themselves and the pose.
EMPHASIS OF TEACHING
There is a great emphasis on alignment.
Initially, there are areas of the body we cannot even feel, much less control. Through a focus on alignment, we develop more awareness and “connect body and mind” in a way that you can directly experience.
2. Breath and Philosophy
Other styles of yoga have come to draw on Iyengar’s revolutionary focus on alignment, but the Iyengar method continues to be unique regarding its depth and precision. Like other styles, we teach Pranayama (techniques of breath and energy control) and incorporate yoga philosophy which offers a vast wealth of wisdom regarding how to enjoy a better quality of life and move toward ultimate emancipation (samadhi).
Certification in the Iyengar system requires a minimum of six years of consistent practice prior to applying for certification. Teacher training programs involve two years of studies in anatomy, philosophy, and teaching methods under two highly certified mentors. Certification is not complete until the aspiring teacher passes (and passing is NOT guaranteed!) a weekend-long testing process that includes demonstrated practice, demonstrated teaching, and a written exam on anatomy, philosophy, and teaching methods.
For more information about Iyengar Yoga, check out these links:
www.bksiyengar.com Official Website of founder, B.K.S. Iyengar
www.iynaus.com Iyengar Yoga National Association of the U.S.