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Iyengar Yoga

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What is iyengar yoga?

Iyengar yoga is a yoga system that focuses on integrating props when performing postures called Asana. It was developed by yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar and was designed to create an integration of the body, mind, and spirit. It is based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga that were outlined in an ancient text by renowned sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

What is Iyengar Yoga & Its Health Benefits?

Iyengar yoga has three aspects, namely technique, sequencing and timing. Technique refers to the student learning on how to refine and perfect the execution of the Asanas and breaths called Pranayama. Sequencing refers to the sequence of how the Asanas and Pranayama should be carried out. Timing is the amount of time spent by the student in a particular Asana or Pranayama and it can be changed to enable a more in-depth exploration of the Asana or Pranayama. It should be remembered that poses cannot be quickly moved into or out as it generally takes time to achieve stability and awareness.

Iyengar yoga teaches the concept of "meditation in action". Simply, the concept refers to the awareness of the students to the different parts of their bodies as they are executing various yoga poses. The mind will initially focus on the individual body parts but with training and experience, it will learn to focus on the body as a whole.

Iyengar yoga health benefits

Since Iyengar yoga heavily focuses on the correct alignment of the body, it can help eliminate or alleviate the aches and pains and correct the posture of the body. Also, it can improve the quality of life among people with chronic low back pain. 

Additionally, the following are some added benefits of Iyengar yoga:

  • Increased Flexibility
  • Toned Muscles
  • A Calmer Mind
  • Pain Relief
  • Protection from Disease
  • Better Food and Lifestyle Habits
  • Improved Breathing

A study published in the journal "Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine" in 2016 suggests that the symptoms of women with breast cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy, such as dyspnea, appetite loss, constipation, and diarrhea, have improved after integrating Iyengar yoga into the therapeutic exercises.

Different iyengar yoga props

Using props help the participants achieve a pose more easily and fully experience its effects. Props are also helpful for participants who are tired or ill as they can provide a means of support, which allows them to receive greater gain from a position than they would be able to get otherwise.

The following are the props typically used in Iyengar yoga:

  • Blocks
  • Straps
  • Cushions
  • Benches
  • Belts
  • Chairs

What to expect from iyengar yoga

An Iyengar yoga class has a mix of both beginners and more seasoned participants. It should be noted to have an open mind when arriving to the class with the desire to perfect each Asana. Avoid wearing overly loose or baggy clothing as the yoga instructor can gauge the body’s alignment. A single Asana can be modified to get the most benefit out of the stretch, and trying modifications can give the most benefit. Yoga is a personal journey so take in mind that everyone in class is also learning, even the instructor, so there is no need to compete with anyone.

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