Iyengar Yoga – a great gift to the world by the legendary yoga guru

BKS AyankarWorld-renowed yoga guru BKS Iyengar, the Founder of Iyengar Yoga, passed away last week at the age of 95. The internationally-acclaimed yoga guru introduced ‘Iyengar Yoga’ to the world, which emphasizes on physical alignment of the body when performing various asanas.

BKS Iyengar systematised more than 200 classical yoga poses and 14 different types of Pranayama ranging from basic to advanced. He opened classes throughout the world to help students learn this technique which involves physical unity which will later be reflected in the mind. Eventually Iyengar Yoga evolved as a brand.

Mr. Iyengar has been awarded the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan. He exposed yoga to the West, and has taught such luminaries like violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin and author Aldous Huxley. He has also authored several books on yoga practice and philosophy, which are considered as authoritative texts used by practitioners, young and old.

About Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga created by BKS Iyengar, which was introduced to the West in 1950s. It is considered to be a blend of art and science. It focuses on physical side of the discipline and emphasizes asanas and breath control. Iyengar yoga is based on traditional eight limbs of yoga as explained by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras.

Iyengar yoga involves safe and systematic progression of yoga postures to develop the ability of each student. It involves sequencing of poses that develop strength, flexibility, concentration, stamina, and body alignment. Iyengar yoga depicts integration of yoga philosophy with practice of asana and incorporation and relevance of its practice into daily life. It shows ways in which yoga can be used to ease various ailments and stress.

Now, Iyengar yoga is taught in more than 70 countries and the books have been translated into 13 languages.

Iyengar Yoga and other yoga styles – difference

Iyengar Yoga is different from other forms of yoga mainly because it involves three different elements, namely, technique, sequence and timing. In this form of yoga, technique refers to body alignment when performing various pranayams, sequence refers to the order in which asanas and breathing exercises are practised, and timing refers to amount of time devoted when performing each pose.

Iyengar Yoga also uses ‘props’ which could be ropes, cushions, belts, gadgets, blocks etc., which helps beginners to experience asanas more easily and attain ideal alignment. Iyengar used around 50 props including mats, ropes, blocks and chairs to align and stretch the body.

The Iyengar yoga method develops endurance, strength and optimal body alignment, apart from flexibility and relaxation. The Iyengar method develops self-awareness, intelligent evaluation, and profound inward reflection.

Standing poses are emphasized at the beginning to build strength and ease of movement, which help in increasing vitality, improving circulation and balance. The postures for deep relaxation are introduced from the beginning. The sitting, reclining, forward bending and backbend twists, are introduced gradually.

Benefits of Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga has proven itself in helping patients suffering from back pain, hypertension, depression, menopause and myocardial infarctions.

Since Iyengar Yoga makes use of props, it helps practitioners to gain sensitivity to the use of effort and receive the deep benefits of postures over significant period of time. Apart from allowing students to practice asanas and pranayams with better ease and stability, the props offer support to the body and allows mind to relax and receive the benefits of yoga more profoundly.

Iyengar yoga is particularly ideal for people with back problems and for those who suffer from stress. As excellent posture, balance and relaxation form major aspects of Iyengar yoga, anyone can benefit from this type of yoga.

Iyengar Yoga is particularly good form of yoga for beginners, as it emphasizes on best possible alignment of the body for all asanas. Body alignment and symmetry are as important as the asanas themselves in this form of yoga. The poses are done with great attention to detail, and each student achieves the pose to the best of their ability.

“Regular practice of yoga can help you face the turmoil of life with steadiness and stability,” says a popular quote by the great yoga guru.