The Iyengar Method
The Iyengar system is the world’s most practised form of yoga. You may be surprised to hear that, as we tend not to be great at self promotion, unlike some of the modern Yoga franchises. Iyengar Yoga teachers are trained over many years, not like the current ‘200 hour’ schools that have sprung up.
Iyengar Yoga is based on the ancient art of Hatha Yoga (the ‘yoga of effort’ ), and is not influenced by the ‘New Age’ practices that some other schools have adopted. Iyengar Yoga is such a popular method as it is very methodical and very safe. As you learn there is a gradual, logical progression.
Some teachers say they have been ‘influenced by’ Iyengar Yoga, or that they have ‘studied with’ Iyengar Yoga teachers. Unfortunately these claims just confuse students. Neither of these things mean that they are qualified to teach Iyengar Yoga. It is a trademark, and only Certified Iyengar Yoga teachers are allowed to use the logo on their websites:
So please do check for this logo to verify that the teacher really is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher.
As a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher I make sure students get enough repetition so that they remember poses and improve them, but not so often that it becomes boring. I believe this method is superior to others due to its precision and attention to detail.
The training of Iyengar yoga teachers is incredibly thorough and we undergo continuous monitoring and professional development. Many Yoga schools that train teachers have a 100% pass rate: not so with Iyengar Yoga.
I have been trained how to use props in class where necessary, to achieve properly aligned and extended poses, and also when to remove props when they are no longer needed. Correct alignment is not only important to avoid injury but also to bring about improvement.
The practice of Iyengar yoga is systematic and the sequence it is taught in is really important. The Yoga asanas (postures) are introduced in a specific order to bring awareness of one’s own body. The mindfulness we learn in yoga can then be transferred to mindfulness in our day to day lives. Familiar actions learnt from the standing asanas are linked to the more challenging and advanced asanas over time. The Iyengar method can be both energetic and restorative.
The Iyengar Yoga Method :
In class we begin with a moment to centre ourselves, then warm up and perform various poses (listed below). There’s also an awareness of breathing, the breath work is considered more advanced than asana. Towards the end of the class we watch the breath in Pranayama (guiding the breath). We finish with relaxation.
The asanas (postures) are designed to bring health to every aspect of the body and are categorised as follows:
Standing (uttistha sthiti)
Sitting (upavistha sthiti)
Forward extension (paschima pratana sthiti)
Lateral extension (parivrtta sthiti)
Inversions (viparita sthiti)
Backward extension (purva pratana)
Supine (supta sthiti)
Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar (Guruji) was taught yoga by the father of modern Hatha yoga, Krishnamacharya. He developed it to be the world’s most practised form. In turn his students that have become certified teachers have this ‘sacred thread’ to connect them with Yoga’s most ancient lineage.
B.K.S. Iyengar‘s book from 1967 ‘Light on Yoga’ was the first of its kind to be published and widely read in the West. It was promoted by his student and good friend, the violinist Yehudi Menuhin.
He found the meaning of the yoga sutras by his practical search and regular practice of yoga, right up to his death at the age of 95. Thus, he has helped all to experience the wisdom of the yoga sutras and the many benefits of Hatha Yoga (‘the yoga of effort’). His style of teaching yoga has been named “Iyengar Yoga” and is now being followed by certified teachers across the world.
He died in August 2014.