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Iyengar Yoga Explained

Iyengar Yoga Explained

Yoga is an ancient form of exercise. It is a combination of exercises, movements, and breathing that can improve both mental and physical health and wellbeing. Iyengar Yoga is the world’s most practiced form of yoga and was founded by B.K.S. Iyengar, who is considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. This type of yoga differs from standard yoga in three main ways: “precision, sequence, and use of props.” This article will give you an insight into the benefits of Iyengar Yoga and what you can expect from a class.

Key Takeaways

  1. Iyengar Yoga was brought from India to the West in the 1970s and continues to be a popular form of yoga
  2. The style of yoga is great for improving physical and mental wellbeing
  3. Class are suitable for all ages and abilities

Iyengar Yoga teachers traditionally are experienced and qualified to help students to find their purpose when practicing this exercise. The props involved make the forms universally accessible to all ages and abilities.

So what does Iyengar Yoga specifically involve?

What is Iyengar Yoga?

Iyengar yoga is a purist form of yoga. B.K.S. Iyengar evolved precise posture and breathing techniques from the philosophical base of the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali. He brought his style of yoga from India to the West in the 1970s.  The ancient form of yoga is fantastic for learning the subtleties of precision and correct alignment. The practice focuses on small intricacies of form and breath management to develop your strength and flexibility.

The Benefits of Iyengar Yoga

Practicing Iyengar Yoga regularly can be beneficial for both physical and mental health.

Research has found that consistent practice of these postures improves flexibility and builds lower body and core strength. Regular practice and holding a pose for longer will help to strengthen and tone muscles. Particular standing poses are designed to help build the core and lower body muscles.

A study found that Iyengar yoga Therapy had positive effects when used to treat patients with chronic low back pain (CBLP). The study concluded: “Yoga improves functional disability, pain intensity, and depression in adults”, which also led to a reduction in their need for pain medication. If you have any current injuries or pain, always ensure that you tell the yoga teacher before the lesson commences.

The yoga style has also been linked to reductions in anxiety and stress for some people.  A study by Chris Streeter and colleagues found that mood was improved during a 12 week Iyengar Yoga and Coherent Breathing intervention. The study found that Iyengar Yoga increased the production of the mood-enhancing chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.

Inside an Iyengar yoga class

A class will often start with a few moments of quiet to prepare for the yoga. The yoga teacher will then teach the postures selected for that class. Iyengar Yoga concentrates on postural alignment and body awareness and the ways in which the postures are taught are the same worldwide. The methodical approach to the practice means classes move at a slower pace compared to other forms of yoga – concentration and focus are required as the postures are demanding in effort and attention to detail. Supports (called props) such as belts, blocks, and pillows are often used to establish the correct form and allow students to achieve their full potential. This makes Iyengar Yoga a fantastic style for all people no matter their age or ability. Teachers are highly qualified and have to undergo comprehensive training to become a teacher. A fully qualified teacher should hold a current Iyengar Yoga Certification Mark.

Where Can I find an Iyengar Yoga Class?

Iyengar Yoga (UK) is a good place to find out more about Iyengar Yoga and start your journey.

References

Beirne, Geraldine. “Yoga: a beginner’s guide to the different styles.” The Guardian. (2014). https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jan/10/yoga-beginners-guide-different-styles#:~:text=Iyengar%20yoga%20is%20great%20for,more%20modern%20form%20of%20Iyengar.&text=Ashtanga%20is%20a%20more%20vigorous%20style%20of%20yoga.

NHS. “A guide to yoga.” Exercise. (2018). https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/guide-to-yoga/.

Street, Chris., Gerbarg, Patricia L., Brown, Richard P., Scott, Tammy M., Nielsen, Greylin H., Owen, L., Sakai, O., Sneider, Jennifer T., Nyer, Maren B., Silveri, Marisa M. “Thalamic Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid Level Changes in Major Depressive Disorder After a 12 Week Iyengar Yoga and Coherent Breathing Intervention.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 26.3 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2019.0234.

Tarlton, Amanda. “Iyengar Yoga 101: What Is It, Health Benefits & How To Practise.” (2020). https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/iyengar-yoga-101-what-is-it-health-benefits-and-how-to-practice.

Williams, K, Abildso, Steinberg L et al. “Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Efficacy of Iyengar Yoga Therapy on Chronic Low Back Pain.“ Spine 34.19 (2009): 76-2066. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181b315cc.

Yogamatters. “Iyengar Yoga Explained.” (2018). https://blog.yogamatters.com/iyengar-yoga-explained/.

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