What is Iyengar yoga?

Iyengar Yoga takes its name from BKS Iyengar, who was born in Bellur, India, on December 14, 1918.

“Several times in class I have had surprised looks when I say BKS Iyengar is an actual person, he is actually alive, and a beautiful inspiration for those of us who practice. He is still practicing most mornings in the studio in Pune, India, where hundreds gather every month to learn. He still supervises the remedial classes and makes sure standards of practice and teaching are kept. His love and passion for what he teaches are a true inspiration.”
Guruji, passed away in August 2014. Age 95.
Annamaria Sacco, Director at Yoga Stable.

BKS IyengarIyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga, In Guruji’s own words “All yoga is hatha, all yoga is asthanga,” asthanga meaning eight in Sanskrit and eight being the limbs of yoga as detailed by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

Quite often Yoga gets identified with stretches — asanas; however asanas are only the third limb of the eight in the Yoga journey. Find out more in the Benefits of Yoga section.

Asanas are very useful and a very important stage as they allow us to develop strength, stamina, flexibility, balance and to train our very busy minds to concentrate gradually, to a point where eventually we may aspire to have moments of complete stillness and clarity. As practice develops, these moments of stillness and peace become longer and lead to a sharper, quieter mind, watchful of the changes and the fluctuations and more resourced to cope with challenges of everyday life.

In the Iyengar system there is a strong focus on the alignment of the physical body and the asanas are introduced in a way which encourages a gradual and safe development of the body structure. There is a great level of detail brought to any asana to continue to grow, whatever the level, in the same pose, whilst adding more complex ones if a students decides to continue to more advanced classes.

Props such as belts, cushions and blankets are used to help students to refine postures or to achieve deep levels of peace in a supported way, especially if a student is ill and requires a certain level of support in their muscular effort.

When the body is aligned, the breath becomes more peaceful, when the breath becomes more peaceful, the mind quietens. Yoga — meaning Union — aims at bringing together mind, body and spirit for our physical and mental health and wellbeing.

BKS Iyengar has also devoted a great part of his life to the application of practice to treating ailments, diseases and dis-eases. Some of his devoted students have been collecting a lot of this work and have, with him and his family, committed themselves to passing it on, mainly though the medical classes in Pune, where teachers learn by observing and helping, as well as through articles, classes, books and dvds.

The Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India, is where all this committed work takes place.

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Yoga is intended to complement your relationship with your medical practitioner/s and consultant/s. If you suspect you may have a health problem, please see your GP and never disregard or delay seeking medical advice. Please inform your teacher beforehand, at the start of the class, if you have any health conditions.