What Is Iyengar Style Yoga? | Prompt Your Props

What Is Iyengar Style Yoga?

Iyengar is a branch of yoga which focuses on precise alignment in poses. It is a yoga style that centers around the perfection of the postures. Likewise, it is performed to gain physical strength through its regular practice. Aside from proper posture alignment, iyengar yoga is about precision and correct form.

Iyengar Yoga concentrates more on aligned poses, as mentioned, than stretches. It uses props to help its practitioners get into difficult positions with correct calibration. Blocks, blankets, cushions, straps and walls are exploited to provide assistance.

These so-called “props” are also utilized to improve balance in poses that are “out of reach”. One of Iyengar’s methods is to alter the pose so that even the very inflexible people can use those materials to get into postures that they otherwise couldn’t do without assistance.

The Iyengar style yoga is named after the founder B.K.S Iyengar who practiced yoga for more than six decades.

What is the difference between Vinyasa and Iyengar yoga?

Vinyasa and Iyengar are two styles of yoga that set out to achieve the same goals, except that they go about it in different ways. It’s not just down to their physical postures, but more of how each adapts to their personal lives. Let’s look at the main differences between these two practice approaches.

Distinguishing the two types of yoga, we look in their approach to the practice itself. Iyengar yoga, developed by B.K.S Iyengar, involves a slower and more gentle pace of flowing movement and poses than Vinyasa, which advocates fluid transitions between interval positions and has a stronger focus on physical strength and conditioning.

Vinyasa is a form of yoga where transitions between asanas (postures) are linked by breath. Iyengar yoga is usually associated with a precise fixed progression, at a slower pace than vinyasa, along a defined series of asanas.
Similar to iyengar, vinyasa applied the combination of breath and movement. Similar to vinyasa though, iyengar is sometimes called the yoking of breath and movement.
Vinyasa focuses more on the breath and movement of poses while targeting core strength and flexibility.Iyengar is a more precise and athletic form of physical exercise that also has a meditative side. It can be done seated.
Vinyasa is a more fluid form of yoga that is done in a flowing yoga sequence. It is more dynamic and flowing-often referred to as moving meditation.Iyengar yoga focuses on steadiness, precision, building strength, endurance, balance, alignment, proper breathing technique, and exact body placement during poses.
Vinyasa yoga, while also holding poses longer than the average time, is still a flowing progression.In Iyengar Yoga, you move more slowly, staying with each pose for a longer time, and pausing between poses.
Vinyasa yoga, on the other hand, is more on targeting speed, power, and muscular engagement.Iyengar yoga emphasizes stability and alignment. It concentrates on gentle stretching and concentration.

In Vinyasa Yoga, you move dynamically from one pose to the next, usually in a fluid sequence. You also transition from one posture to another with little pause to catch your breath, and without resting in between them. The poses are synchronized with strategic breathing.

Neither is better than the other. Neither is harder than the other. In Iyengar Yoga, you learn to maximize each pose, and you learn to pause and breathe between poses, in the same manner with vinyasa.

If you know how to do Vinyasa Yoga, you will have learned the skill of moving continuously from one pose to the next. You will know that pausing and resting are as essential to the process, in the same importance as moving.

What is the difference between Hatha Yoga and Iyengar yoga?

Hatha yoga is a generic term.[1]Hatha Yoga Poses | The Basics | The Practice of Hatha Yoga It means simply yoga that emphasizes physical poses and breath.

To differentiate hatha and Iyengar yoga, here are their attributes that you can consider to distinguish one from the other: physical postures, philosophy underlying the styles, and the “yama” and “niyama”.

The first is about the actual physical postures. Hatha yoga is a generic term that can include a variety of different yoga poses. Iyengar yoga is a specific style of Hatha yoga developed by B.K.S. Iyengar.

The second is about the philosophy underlying the practice of these postures. Hatha yoga generally follows a method called ”vinyasa”, which means ”linking together”. In Iyengar yoga, the idea of vinyasa is modified by the emphasis on alignment and detail.

The third is about the ”yama” and ”niyama”, positive personal qualities that should be developed through the practice of yoga. In Iyengar yoga, they are called the ”eight limbs of yoga”, similar to ashtanga.

Therefore, hatha yoga refers to the generic physical poses while Iyengar yoga touches specifically the positioning that are practiced in a specific way.

When it comes to the philosophy of the postures, in Hatha yoga, there is a general belief that the body should be flexible and supple. There is a belief that the postures are the key to good health. There are different philosophies in Iyengar Yoga that emphasize different qualities.

Touching upon the ”yama” and ”niyama”. The ”yama” are the ”precepts” of yoga. They are positive qualities that should be developed through the practice of asanas. The ”niyama” are the ”postures” of yoga. These are the ones that are physically performed.

B.K.S. Iyengar’s “Ashtanga Yoga,” also known as “Power Yoga,” was developed in 1925. “Ashtanga Yoga” refers to the practice of eight-limbed yoga.[2]Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga | Concept of Ashtanga Yoga: Its Background & Styles

Is Iyengar yoga suitable for beginners?

Iyengar yoga is one of the most famous and practiced forms of yoga. It is named after B. K. S. Iyengar, the man credited with creating it, as earlier stated. This form of yoga may be suitable for beginners, provided they strictly follow, comply with, the instructions of their teacher.

One of iyengar yoga’s focal points is on stretching and strengthening the muscles and joints. The practice is progressive, requiring the student to master a series of postures, or asanas, before moving into more difficult, advanced postures.

The teacher may demonstrate poses, and the student then repeats them until he or she feels comfortable and can do them correctly.

It is helpful to have a positive attitude when practicing Iyengar yoga, as it helps the student stay relaxed. Iyengar yoga is also said to improve concentration, balance, and strength.

Iyengar yoga can make any beginner a better yogi. However, beginners also need some guidance. And Iyengar’s guidelines for beginning students are not easy to follow.

Iyengar likes to deconstruct poses, and beginners are unaccustomed to that. They find it frustrating. They wonder why they must spend so much effort doing the same thing over and over.

Iyengar’s idea of “tension” is the opposite of modern ideas about “flow.” The word “weight” is used a lot in Iyengar’s vocabulary. Tension comes from effort. The effort is supposed to build strength; that is, the ability to do difficult things.

Yet, this can get confusing. First, beginners don’t yet know their strength is improving. Second, when students say, “I feel strong today,” it can be read two ways.

They could mean they feel strong physically, or it could mean they feel strong mentally. However, if they mean the latter, Iyengar’s answer usually isn’t what they want to hear. Iyengar’s response is that “the mind must work against gravity.”

The only way to learn to feel strong in this way is to practice. The better you feel, the more you practice, and the more strength you feel. Nonetheless, beginners find it hard to see the connection between effort and strength.

They don’t yet understand gravity. And, of course, Iyengar’s definition of “tension” isn’t the only definition of tension. To beginners, it seems rather complicated.

Why Iyengar yoga is the best

The Iyengar method has a lot of rules. Simple asanas can be quite challenging when these rules are integrated in the execution of the same postures.

To stand in Mountain Pose, you press your chest out, press up through the crown of your head, and lift your tailbone.

In Warrior I, you step your right foot forward, plant your heel down, and point your toe to the sky.

In Standing Forward Bend, you bend forward so that your forehead touches the floor.

In Tree Pose, you hold your hands on your feet, with the thumbs pointing up and the flesh of your fingers pointing toward the floor.

The Iyengar method also has a lot of props—blocks, straps, blankets, cushions, and so on. The props have been laid out on the floor and students can use them as they wanted.

In the same manner, iyengar yoga is popular among professional dancers. It is excellent for them, because they need to be able to stand on one leg for a long time, and they need strong muscles to keep their balance.

The iyengar method is also popular among people who have had back trouble. It builds back strength slowly, in carefully controlled increments. Many people who start yoga with back trouble find that they no longer need painkillers.

Why iyengar may be the best, the answer may also be simple: poses can become challenging. Yet they produce results and will aid you to attain your desired health objectives, or even peace of mind.

Iyengar yoga benefits

The benefits you are supposed to get from Iyengar yoga are many: flexibility, strength, balance, coordination, health, balance, quieting of the mind, and emotional control, among others.

Likewise, yoga experts have found that Iyengar Yoga to:

  • increase flexibility and mobility
  • decrease the risk of certain diseases
  • improve blood circulation
  • alleviate anxiety or depression
  • improve concentration
  • alleviate pain and tension
  • prevent osteoporosis
  • increase the function of the immune system
  • reduce symptoms of menopause
  • reduce the effects of aging
  • reduce chronic pain

Final Thoughts

All forms of exercise, as long as done properly, can greatly affect in a positive way our health and lifestyle. Yoga, as one of its modes, is a fitness activity, as well. As such, any form of yoga which directly affect our body because of asanas can be of great help too.

One of such form is Iyengar yoga. As we have discussed above, such yoga style can benefit our health. This may be possible since iyengar yoga emphasizes, among others, proper alignment, or asana, in yoga postures, or yoga asanas.

It also encourages us to work at our own pace, and to reach our maximum potential within a safe environment. Added to that iyengar yoga typically uses props, or yoga accessories, to help us achieve proper alignment. Props can be used to support, balance, hold, or guide us through yoga postures.

Lastly, iyengar yoga also employs the use of yoga breathing, or pranayama, during asanas. Pranayama consists of various breathing techniques, including alternate nostril breathing, or the Nadi Shodhana technique,[3]Nadi Shodhana and alternate nostril breathing with retention, or the Bhastrika technique.[4]Bhastrika

All these evaluations are important in considering iyengar yoga style as one of those helpful yoga techniques that can be beneficial to our existence.

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