“It is through the alignment of the body that I discovered the alignment of my mind, self, and intelligence”
― B.K.S. Iyengar
The origins of Iyengar Yoga
The Iyengar Yoga school is based on many years of practical research and experimentation of traditional Hatha Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar and his family. With his lifetime of practice and through a scientific and systematic approach, Mr Iyengar has intensified the practice of asanas and created ways to make an authentic yoga practice available for everyone.
Like other Yoga tradition, the philosophical background is the set of 196 aphorisms called the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The Yoga Sutra, written some 2200 years old texts, describing the path to enlightenment.
In his books and interviews, Iyengar insisted that he had not invented a new kind of yoga, but had given it a new costume.
The 4 cornerstones of Iyengar Yoga
1. Correct alignment in Asana: an emphasis is given in aligning the poses in a correct way, this ensures safety and a penetrating practice. Turning the attention towards your body is the first step towards concentration (Dharana), which later becomes meditation.
2. Yoga props: the use of props expands greatly the possibility of exploration of the body-mind complex, it is used as a tool for going beyond our limitations, pain, fear. Props are also useful when working with different ailments p.e. neck pain, back pain, knee problems etc.
3. The art-of-sequencing: it is one of the aspects for which Mr Iyengar was well known for, his genius way of connecting the poses within each other. Preparing the body with simple poses to go deeper towards more difficult and challenging poses.
4. The time spent in the pose: by spending time in the pose we are increasing the physiological and psychological benefit of the practice. By maintaining the concentration and awareness throughout the pose, one trains his mind and practice the first step of meditation.
Iyengar Yoga a pragmatic approach
Having a strong emphasis on the body, Iyengar Yoga can be sometimes seen as having a focus on physical performance.
But appearances are misleading, an important step toward spiritual growth is to connect the body with the mind. According to Mr Iyengar, the body is the door to the soul, this door will not open by waiting passively or by practising forcefully.
One has to learn to be constant in the effort, one has to cultivate the interest for the subject, the body is the interface through which one will connect his being at a deeper level.
While practising asanas, an inner balance will appear; between the left and the right side of the body, between the muscular-skeleton system and the organic body, between each every fibre, muscle and articulation. When the balance is achieved between the different parts of the body, then contemplation will arise – the door for a spontaneous meditation (Dyana).
Iyengar Yoga, a practice for a lifetime
One size doesn’t fit all, correct and sustainable practice is related, to age, to physical condition, to psychological and emotional state. Iyengar Yoga practice is meant to support our daily lives, with respect to our individual constitution and living conditions.
Iyengar yoga system can provide you with a unique set of possibilities, making an authentic practice possible regardless of your age, your physical capacity, your emotional state or injuries.
With the practice of Iyengar yoga, you will develop the right amount between strength and flexibility, you will address your body an efficient and systematic way. Mr Iyengar with his life-long practice and countless numbers of medical-cases made him create ways of practising which were back then an innovation in the yogic world, nowadays you will find that almost all schools have adopted some of his props and principles in their own practice and teaching.