Iyengar yoga is an alignment and breath based style of yoga founded by Sri B.K.S Iyengar who is considered, along with Sri K. Patthabi Jois, one of the grandfathers of modern yoga. 90 and 93 years of age respectively and still going strong, Iyengar and Jois introduced and revolutionized yoga in the West. In 1966, Iyengar wrote the seminal yoga tome, Light on Yoga, and no self respecting yoga does not have a copy on their shelves, or like me, in my bag pretty often. This book breaks down 200 postures, breathwork, bandhas (locks) with anecdotes on deities, folklore, history, as well as the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of the poses.
What is the style/class like?
Alignment, alignment, alignment! This style of yoga teaches awareness through attention to precision and alignment in each pose. This attention to your body and the detail is to enhance the therapeutic benefits of these poses and how poses, if done correctly, can help heal physical ailments.
The first thing that is very different about an Iyengar studio is that there are ropes and belts hanging from the wall, blocks, bolsters and folding chairs - all used to help the student get in the pose correctly, deeply and to aid those with physical limitations. There is no music in an Iyengar class and is seen as one of, if not THE most serious of the Hatha yoga styles.
Personal insight and who might benefit from this style:
As a former dancer I loved the precision and discipline of Iyengar. I feel it’s a style that can give a student the greatest foundation. Iyengar is steeped in tradition, discipline and finding the perfection of the pose, but only to make you a better you! Once you’ve been showed how to use all the props, it becomes second nature. I feel that some of the top and strongest teachers come out of the Iyengar tradition. If you’re looking to learn the craft as developed by one of the masters of yoga and wanting to develop a strong foundation for your practice, investigate Iyengar. I also had the extreme pleasure of meeting Guruji Iynegar for the opening of his new center in January 2005. Seeing him, he was the picture of living yoga: kind, funny, attentive, bright, compassionate, NORMAL, questioning and centered. In his honor, I continue my practice.
Please visit the Iyengar Association of Greater New York.