The founder of Iyengar Yoga is Yogacharya Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar. He trained his pupil under his own style of yoga during the 20th century. The yoga is a form of Hatha yoga, which involves use of props. The yoga is also based on the concept of “eight limbs” of Ashtanga yoga.
BKS Iyengar has systematised more than 200 yoga postures or asanas and also 14 different types of Pranayamas (breath control methods). The asanas and pranayamas are taught in many variations. They may be very simple or extremely difficult. Hence is makes it easier for even a beginner to navigate through these techniques with much ease so that the body mind and soul become flexible sensitive and strong.
The emphasis is on maintaining the correct body posture and alignment, which would be anatomically correct. This ensures that the student does not suffer any injury or pain. Many props are used in this yoga to facilitate the person to attain the correct positions of the asanas. The commonly used props are chairs, wooden blocks, straps, belts and blankets. The props are used so that the person can move through all the postures in an asana with much ease. The props benefit a person by applying less stress on the muscles. It aids in precision and alignment. Using props not only reduces chances of injury, but also helps recover from injuries also much faster.
Pranayama is introduced into the yoga, only after the person has achieved flexibility, alignment and lung capacity after doing various asanas. This is the foundation required for a person so that they can effectively practice breath control exercises. Pranyama would help a person physically by toning all the systems in the body, majorly circulatory, nervous, digestive, and respiratory system. Pranayama is crucial since it controls the mind and senses thereby preparing an individual for further meditation experience. It helps a person to detach from all external distractions.
See More: Yoga Baba Ramdev
How is Iyengar Yoga different from other forms of Yoga?
1. Props are used extensively in iyengar yoga, unlike in other forms. This makes it convenient for people from all ages to perform these asanas with much ease.
2. It is very safe as it focuses on the natural anatomy of the body while performing the asanas. The variations make it much easier to perform these asanas.
3. The asanas need to be performed in a proper order.
4. Every pose or asana that has to be performed requires deep concentration and in order to do that one must be in meditative state while practising yoga.
Let us now look at a few Iyengar Yoga poses that can be done within the confines of your house:
1. Tadasana / Mountain Pose:
1. Begin by standing straight with your feet together and hands on both sides.
2. Now join both your hands in prayer and raise them above your head. This would also help in lengthening the spine.
3. Lift up your heels and stand on your toes.
4. Now try to balance your weight evenly on both of your legs.
5. Stretch all the joints in your body in this position and stay in this position breathing deeply for a few minutes. Then relax.
See More: How To Do Kriya Yoga
2. Halasana / Plough Pose:
1. First lie on your back with legs straight and parallel to each other and hands on either side.
2. Lift your legs upwards such that your buttocks are also lifted up off the floor. You can support your back with the help of your hands.
3. Your legs must be stretched as much as you can and should be in straight alignment with your body.
4. Now slowly bring your legs downward such that the toes of your feet touch the ground above your head. You can still use your hands for supporting your back.
5. Your legs must be straight as you do this. Remain in this position for a few seconds and then gently roll back to the original position.
See More: Benefits Of Isha Yoga
3. Trikonasana / Triangle Pose:
1. Stand straight with your feet slightly apart by a few feet.
2. Place your right foot out at 90 degrees and put your left foot in by 15 degrees. The centre arch of your left heel must be in line with your right heel.
3. Now press your legs firmly to the ground and balance your weight equally on both legs.
4. Now inhaling, bend your body at the hips, keeping your waist straight.
5. Your left hand must now go up in the air, as your right hand would come down towards the floor. The arms must be in line with your shoulder. The right hand must touch the ankle or the feet.
6. Stretch maximum and take long breaths for a few minutes. Repeat the same on the other side.
4. Uttanasana / Standing Forward Bend Pose:
1. Begin with a tadasana, with your hands still up in the air.
2. As you exhale, bend your body forward at the hips. Ensure that your knees are as straight as possible.
3. Now rest your hands firmly on the floor beside your feet.
4. Bend your hands at the elbows, such that they are placed on the outer side of the calf muscles.
5. Remain in this position for a few minutes and then release.
6. Repeat this for at least ten times.
Benefits of Iyengar Yoga:
The health benefits of doing Iyengar Yoga are below:
1. It helps to alleviate aches and pains
2. It helps in improving the memory, focus, concentration and balance
3. On regular practice, it can also delay the ageing process.
4. Cardiac diseases can be reduced to a great level
5. People with poor appetite, sleeping problems and dull mood can benefit by doing this yoga.
6. Since the yoga focuses on pranayama, it helps in reducing respiratory problems.
Iyengar yoga is one of the best forms of yoga where beginners can work on challenging postures at the start without much hassles. The props also make it easier to do these poses. Besides use of props, the yoga encourages trainer correction. So it is best to do Iyengar yoga under a trainer so that the trainer can correct it immediately.