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A Teaching Approach: Iyengar Yoga

Yoga is a family of ancient spiritual practices originating in India. It is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy. In India and across the World, Yoga is seen as a means to both physical health and spiritual mastery. Outside India, Yoga has become primarily associated with the practice of asanas or postures of Hatha Yoga.

In the United States the American Fitness Professionals & Associates offers Yoga Certification for intructors.

As with all spiritual practices, Yoga is constantly evolving with new movements and forms.

Developed in the 1930's by a yogi who wanted to improve his health despite his tuberculosis, malaria, and typhoid, Iyengar yoga gets its name from its creator, B.K.S. Iyengar. B.K.S. Iyengar was born in 1918 and suffered from numerous ailments when he was younger. He now teaches yoga (though over 80 years old) at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Prune, India, which he initiated in honor of his wife. Two fellow world-renowned yoga experts assist him: Geeta, his oldest daughter, and Prashant, his son. B.K.S. Iyengar has taught such notables as the Queen mother of Belgium, as well as having taught special classes for military academies and commandos.

His writings are considered amongst the top yoga texts, especially his work Light on Yoga, first published in 1966 and now translated into 18 languages. This man's methods are so prevalent that most other forms of yoga will include elements of Iyengar, like a Hatha yoga lesson that lets a beginner use props. Props in general are a modern addition to yoga, from the Iyengar influence.


Did you know?

Buddha, who is estimated to have lived 563 to 483 BC, is believed to have studied what was known of yoga at that time as part of an extensive education in Hindu philosophy. It is also very likely, given the rapid growth of Buddhism after his death and before the Bhagavad Gita was composed, that Buddhism had some influence on that work. There is a considerable overlap between the Hindu yoga tradition and Buddhism.


Iyengar as a modern form of Hatha yoga uses a countless number of props to assist the yogi in reaching different poses, lending itself to beginners not used to exercise and to people with back and joint problems, though that doesn't mean this type of yoga is easy. Progression from pose to pose is slow, making proper alignment critical in each pose. This type of yoga is meticulous, for every detail of bodily position must be correct. Even yoga students advanced with other types will learn Iyengar to correct their incorrect alignment.

Proper alignment is the number one focus of Iyenger yoga, for it declares that there is only one proper way to do each pose, which a student will learn through practice. Props are used as needed to enable a student to reach proper alignment. Iyengar stresses certain classical poses, making it a useful foundation for people who might want to use it as a method to jumpstart into other methods.

Iyengar yoga tones muscles, easing tension and chronic pain in the meantime. Nonetheless, it has no flow from pose to pose. Between each pose, the yogi rests in Corpse or Child's pose. This lack of flow makes it less of a cardiovascular workout than the other forms of yoga, though its use of props makes it more attainable for a wider population. If you are looking for a program to begin a yoga regimen, try this form to learn correct alignment and start slow, working up to more difficult forms of yoga.

About the Author: Michael Saunders edits a site on Yoga and Health and maintains a Website on all elements of Prosperity and Abundance.

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