How does Iyengar Yoga differ from other styles of Yoga ?
The Iyengar method places special focus on developing strength, endurance and correct body alignment in addition to flexibility and relaxation. Standing poses are emphasized in this system of yoga. They build strong legs, increase general vitality, and improve circulation, coordination and balance.
Iyengar yoga is meditation in action. As students do yoga postures the mind is focused on the actions of the posture and the movement of the breath. As the mind unites with the body and the breath students move into a meditative state. Self exploration occurs through discovery and release of physical tension patterns and psychological resistance. As practice continues, a student’s ability to relax and to concentrate improves and inner awareness is enhanced.
Seated meditation, incense-burning, or candle-gazing, often presumed to be taught in yoga classes are not used.
Iyengar yoga teachers emphasize improving precision of alignment in the yoga poses. Why is this important ?
Exercise as it is usually done only reinforces misalignment. When people don’t know how to exercise properly, they tend to stretch from their more flexible areas and rely on their better-developed muscles for strength.
Iyengar yoga encourages weak parts to strengthen and stiff areas to stretch, thus awakening and re-aligning the whole body. As the body moves into better alignment, less muscular work is required and relaxation increases naturally.
How should I begin practicing Iyengar yoga ?
People who have not done yoga before should enroll in an introductory series or in a beginning level public class. Students who have done other types of yoga, but who have never experienced Iyengar yoga are also encouraged to enroll in the introductory class series, or to take a beginning class for at least several weeks.
The sound principles of movement and alignment on which the entire Iyengar approach is founded may be new to many students and are presented in the introductory and beginning classes.
I have problems with my health. Can I practice Iyengar yoga ?
Done properly, Iyengar yoga will not harm and often helps many physical conditions. Although yoga teachers are not therapists, many students find that their physical difficulties decrease as a by-product of improved alignment. If you have a physical problem, you should tell your teacher about it before you begin class, yoga poses can be modified and adjusted to meet your needs.
Many people feel that they cannot join a yoga class for a number of reasons. Yoga is open to people of all ages and levels of physical condition. Do not be put off from trying a yoga class because you feel that you are too old, too stiff, too fat, too thin, too tired, etc. Yoga is a process-oriented activity with something to offer everyone.