BEFORE STARTING YOGA
Before you start practising Iyengar Yoga, it would be worth your while to understand a little more about it.
It is a thoroughly classical style of yoga based on the teachings of Patanjali, who is known as the father of yoga.
He lived over 2500 years ago and wrote the famous treatise The Yoga Sutras, a series of aphorisms to guide the student along the yogic path toward Enlightenment.
Mr Iyengar, known as Guruji to his followers, spent more than seven decades studying this traditional yoga and researching, refining and developing all that he was taught in his youth by his Guru, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya.
Guruji’s explorations over the years resulted in certain emphases in his methods. This phenomenon led his students along the way to brand his style Iyengar Yoga, although Guruji himself always said that there is only yoga, pure traditional yoga as he learned it.
According to his methods, asana (which is, loosely speaking, the practice of the poses) and pranayama (which is, loosely speaking, the practice of breath control) are approached with the greatest possible focus on alignment and precision.
Another feature of the style is its famous use of props to facilitate alignment, precision and accessibility of the practice where stiffness, weakness, imbalance, age or ill health might limit progress or understanding.
The system is also becoming increasingly recommended by doctors and physiotherapists and other health practitioners for its remedial aspects.
Unlike many other ‘flowing’ styles of yoga practised today, Iyengar yoga very often requires the long holding of poses.
The purpose of this is to give the student time to examine and analyse points of weakness or imbalance that require correction.
Additionally Iyengar Yoga is also known for the carefully structured sequences presented in classes. These are specifically planned to lead the student smoothly through his practice towards a state of calm alertness at its conclusion.
Progressively the student is enabled to expand this state into areas of his life beyond the studio walls.
GUIDELINES FOR YOUR PRACTICE
Wear comfortable clothing, preferably not too loose so that you and your teacher can observe the accurate alignment and actions of your body.
Iyengar Yoga practice is done without shoes and these are normally left at the door to the studio.
Any medical problems or ailments that you are aware of should be treated by a qualified specialist doctor. Always inform your yoga teacher about medical problems to ensure that your practice is as safe as possible.
Many conditions and chronic problems can improve over time with proper yoga practice. Certain poses can be modified, as advised by your teacher, to suit your specific condition.
During menstrual periods a less strenuous practice without inversions is recommended. Your teacher will guide you in this regard.
In order to reap the full benefits of your yoga practice it is advisable to wait a few hours after a heavy meal or an hour after a snack before commencing practice.
To learn more about Iyengar Yoga you might consider reading the Introduction to Guruji’s first book.
Light on Yoga
This yoga classic was written when BKS Iyengar was in his 40s and is still being published in various languages all over the world even since his passing in 2014.
- Yoga in Action by Geeta Iyengar
- Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar
- Light on Pranayama by BKS Iyengar
- Path to Holistic Health by BKS Iyengar
- Yoga – a Gem for Women by Geeta Iyengar
- The Illustrated Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar