Iyengar yoga is a style of yoga that was developed and started by BKS Iyengar. This style of yoga usually focuses on alignment in poses and uses a lot of props. BKS Iyengar is well know for his great book Light on Yoga, which contains more than 600 photos and 544 pages making it one of the most in-depth books ever compiled on yoga asanas. Iyengar has also trained many students that have gone on to open Iyengar yoga studios all over the world.
BKS Iyengar grew up in India and started practicing yoga at a young age in an attempt to cure a chronic breathing ailment he suffered from. He continued the practice of yoga throughout his youth and into his adulthood and ended up traveling through Europe and the U.S. speaking about yoga and teaching yoga.
Iyengar yoga classes usually use several props such as chairs, blankets, blocks and straps while focusing on perfecting the correct alignment in poses. The props can be of a great help to get the students into the correct alignment so they can feel where it is and reenact the pose on their own. Iyengar classes are great for people who really want to spend some time and perfect their asanas. Many of the other types of yoga classes go through vinyasa flows, but the students rarely have the opportunity to slow down and work on their alignment. With Iyengar classes, proper alignment is the main focus of the class.
Headstands and shoulder stands loosen and stretch many of the muscles that regulate breathing and promote blood flow. As such, these particular poses were important to Iyengar and continue to have a large presence in Iyengar yoga.
The headstand changes the flow of the energy in the body and many different benefits such as making more blood flow to the brain, which will give your brain more energy and promote more awareness and clearer thinking. Headstands also send more blood to the pituitary glands and the pineal glands, which help with many different functions in the body. Headstands are also great for strengthening the back and shoulders and reinforcing balance.
The shoulder stand also has many great benefits including stretching the chest and shoulder area, which is usually very tight on most people and stretching the trapezius muscles in the upper back, which can be a major contribution to migraine, tension, or stress headaches in many people. Shoulder stands also divert the flow of blood from around the chest and neck area and into some very important glands such as the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
Being able to maintain headstands and shoulder stands are important in advanced Iyengar yoga because they form the base that many of other asanas are built on.
BKS Iyengar was born in 1918. Even though he is over 90 years old today, he still practices yoga for several hours every day. Iyengar is one of the safest yoga styles for old people to get involved in because it has such intense focus on the correct alignment in poses and most injuries in yoga are caused by the incorrect alignment.
Iyengar yoga also has many routines that focus on certain illnesses or sickness. In the book Light on Yoga there is an entire appendix devoted to curative asanas for various diseases. These can be a great benefit to the old and the sick because they are designed to open parts of the body and let energy flow to places that will promote healing for certain sicknesses and diseases.
Iyengar’s book Light on Yoga is a must read for any student of yoga with years of lessons and poses to explore and perfect. An Iyengar class is a nice change from vinyasa flows and will help you work on proper yoga alignment.