Introductory Yoga Perfect for New Students

Beginning yoga students are in a class of their own. In a literal sense they need their own sacred space in order to learn.  A dedicated class away from those who know the basics and are more interested in the next stage of learning yoga. In a figurative sense, they are raw students, as BKS Iyengar would say, and have no habits to break from wrong practice. In the realm of yoga they are tabula rasa. Frequently they are timid, curious, stiff and occasionally hyper-flexible. As a teacher of yoga, it is my quest to teach the basics and set the novice on a life-long transformative journey.

We begin with standing poses. To be sure that students get off on the right foot, we teach the poses feet first. Once a beginner has the correct foot position, the foundation will stabilize and the legs can be trained to rotate and straighten. It is surprising that one may not know if the leg is straight or bent, rotated externally or internally, but that is the nature of the beginner. We use basic instructions to state which actions will straighten the leg, for example, "press the foot and lift the knee cap".  While some students may understand these words, others will have to be shown and some will need the instruction of a skillful touch of the teacher’s hand to awaken their legs. Once this is accomplished, the upper body can be addressed with the same sensitivity.

Self Study from the periphery to the core is one of the guiding principles of yoga. In the process of learning the biomechanics of their physical body, new students increase body intelligence. With repetition of the poses, proficiency in alignment develops.  Neuromuscular connections are awakened, confidence is increased, balance improves, and expansion and extension emerge. Over several weeks the raw beginner transforms into a more knowledgeable practitioner. Skillful practice is cultivated and motivation is internalized.

Physical body, breath body, and mental body begin to awaken. Yoga is so much more than stretching muscles, the most superficial level of the practice.  As the student learns the physical shape coupled with the actions muscles must perform in order to align the skeleton, awareness deepens. Engaging the art of concentration to observe the components of the pose is the start of the inward process. Once a muscular mental body is cultivated and students can pay attention to what is happening on their mat, stress levels decline and concerns with daily living activities are left with their shoes at the studio door.  

At Iyengar Yoga Source we teach Introductory classes and introduce 25 poses to new comers. In the store on our web site you may purchase a poster with the poses and names in English and Sanskrit or download the digital file. 


Fall 2016 Message #1

Dear IYS Students and Friends,

The fall session begins on Monday, September 26 with a slightly expanded schedule. Two new class times have been added for Introductory and Level 1 students on Thursday at noon and 4 PM, respectively. Our intention is to add more classes in the near future and give you more opportunities to practice in our space.

The Teacher Training Program begins this session. You will see evidence of the TTP as participants assist me in some of the classes. The nature of the IYS program is apprenticeship based. Those who have been attending classes for some time have had a first-hand experience of this process and have seen previous teachers-in- training in our classes. The first stage is to observe, then practice teaching one pose. As their skills progress, they may teach two poses. This will extend over a two year period.

Mary Reilly, pictured above in India buying supplies for her jewelry making business, will be teaching a workshop at IYS on the weekend of October 14 -16. The deadline for discounted enrollment is Oct. 1. Reserve your space now. 

We will be adding the Sunday Special Topics classes back into the schedule and those dates will be posted on the web site as soon as they are confirmed with all the teachers. The 2016 Holiday Party will be December 11. Stay tuned for more details.

The philosophical topics of interest for fall are pratyahara (drawing the senses inward) and dharana (concentration), the next two limbs in our exploration of Astanga Yoga (the eight limbed path). These two components have the distinction of turning our attention away from the external environment and toward our inner domain. The ultimate intention in yoga is to reach samadhi, a profoundly deep state of meditation. These two aspects condition our mental body and set the stage for the gift of samadhi to be given to us. This is not something that can be grasped. We can only put ourselves in a receptive state and see if it comes.

I am eager to resume our regular structure of classes and to let go of the soupy summer days in favor of a different experience. New England autumn is such a delight for the senses. Beautiful colors, moderate temperatures, and the joy of the holiday season as a conclusion. The challenge is to dance through all of these circumstances without losing one’s balance. A daily practice will facilitate the process. Include an inversion in your practice and mental clarity will be apparent. Looking forward to seeing all of you in class continuing your journey on the path of yoga.

With gratitude in the spirit of yoga,

Linda Di Carlo, Director Iyengar Yoga Source