What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient art, science and philosophy for the well-being of all mankind. In the west the best known form of yoga is Hatha Yoga in which physical postures and the breath are used to move the mind towards meditation.
Yoga is not a religion but a deeply spiritual practice that can be done by people of any religion or by those with no religion at all.
Asanas, or physical postures are used to calm and quieten the mind and bring energy, health, and vibrancy to the body.
Who is B.K.S. Iyengar?
Mr. Iyengar is an internationally renowned Yoga master who lived in Pune, India. He is considered the world’s foremost authority on yoga and in 2004 was listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Until shortly before his passing on August 20, 2014 at the age of 95, Mr Iyengar continued to practice, teach & write about yoga daily. The body of work he has created is enormous and has demystified and developed yoga into its most accessible form. People from all over the world and from all types of yoga are continually influenced and inspired by his practice, dedication and knowledge.
The Iyengar Yoga system has developed from over 80 years of dedicated practice, teaching experience and study of classical yoga and medical science. He is the author of the classic texts, Light on Yoga and Light on Pranayama.
How does Iyengar Yoga differ from other styles of Yoga?
The term ‘Iyengar Yoga’ was given to this style of yoga by students of Mr. Iyengar so as to differentiate it from other yoga. Yoga in the Iyengar tradition is based on the eight limbs of Astanga Yoga as interpreted by B.K.S. Iyengar. Iyengar Yoga promotes integration of body, mind and spirit through the practice of traditional yoga postures (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayama). It places special emphasis on developing strength, endurance, balance and correct body alignment. As practice continues, a student’s ability to relax and concentrate improves and inner awareness is enhanced. Iyengar yoga is meditation in action. As students practice the postures, the mind becomes focused on the actions of the posture and the movement of breath. As the mind unites with the body and breath, students move into a meditative state. Self exploration occurs through discovery and release of physical tension and psychological resistance.
Yoga – the Iyengar way
- is the most practiced form of yoga throughout the world.
- is physically strengthening, mentally engaging, emotionally fulfilling and spiritually uplifting.
- is versatile & teaches awareness – not just flexibility as it enhances balance, creates clarity & teaches serenity of the mind.
- is energising – its dynamic approach is not stagnant – teaching is adjusted for reasons of age, gender, season, experience or health
- develops understanding – within the class, throughout the month and over the changing seasons of the year.
- uses props to develop understanding – especially when one is injured or suffers from deteriorative conditions.
- is a positive & empowering approach towards good health
What are the benefits of Yoga?
Yoga involves techniques for stretching, strengthening and relaxing the body. Most forms of exercise reinforce misalignment. Only our more flexible areas tend to be stretched and we rely on our already more developed muscles for strength. Iyengar Yoga encourages weak parts to strengthen and stiff areas to stretch, thus awakening and realigning the whole body into good basic posture. As the body moves into better alignment, less muscular work is required and relaxation increases naturally.
1. Increased flexibility: In our daily lives and in many fitness activities certain muscle groups are neglected. For example, running and biking or just a lot of sitting can shorten the hip flexor and hamstring muscles which in turn can lead to back problems.
2. Improved stamina and strength Iyengar Yoga teaches that strength and flexibility must develop together in order to create a healthy body. Once a yoga student develops a good understanding of the asanas, the yoga practice can become aerobically challenging.
3. Improved joint movement: Even the most fit people seldom use the full range of their body’s possible movements. When movement in joints is curtailed for any number of reasons, increased stress often occurs in another area, often the spine. Full joint movement improves blood circulation, removal of wastes and lubrication. Left/right imbalances can be modified with careful alignment work.
4. Relaxation: Stretching and relaxation go together. Relaxation is an essential part of daily life. When one practices yoga asanas, the meaning of relaxation becomes clearer as one learns how to release unnecessary muscular tension. Conscious relaxation at the end of each yoga class is a time for the body to cool, remove toxins and harmonize the body, mind and emotions.
5. Breathing awareness: Lifelong habits affect the way you breathe. A body toned by stretching will be more fit for deep breathing than one that is weak and poorly aligned. In yoga one becomes aware of how emotions and mental states affect breathing and visa versa.
I Have Health Problems, can I do Yoga?
A yoga class offers a comfortable mix of ancient wisdom and practical science. mMore and more referrals come from health professionals as the benefits of yoga are experienced. Yoga gives participants control over their own well-being. Yoga can be adapted to suit any individual no matter what their age or state of health. Learning skilful use of the back is fundamental in all yoga classes and yoga is wonderful during pregnancy. Because Iyengar Yoga is done with attention to precision, positioning and balance there is little risk of injury. It is a personal and non-competitive activity. While a class may appear to be very physical, the workout will be mental and spiritual as well. As one yogi said, “Yoga is not learning how to stand on your head; it’s learning how to stand on your feet”.