What is So Different About Iyengar Yoga?
by Linda DiCarlo
The art and science of yoga has evolved over the last several decades to appeal to contemporary society. In an effort to keep up with trends, individual teachers have devised a variety of approaches in yoga classes. There is something for everyone: slow, fast, sequential, hot, suspended, musical, silent, eyes opened or closed, disciplined, freedom of movement and the list goes on. All yoga is good as long as no one is getting injured. After all, the philosophical tenet of ahimsa, non-violence, is the first step of a yoga practice.
Yoga is An Attention Game
The Iyengar method of yoga is "meditation in action" according to BKS Iyengar. After ten years of searching, I first started practicing the method in 1986 and was impressed with the mental discipline required to pay attention for the duration of a class. At the same time I was fascinated by the effects of following the precise instructions on alignment. This was yoga with a clear purpose, no ambiguity! It taught me how to pay attention for an extended period of time.
Instructions are Clear and Precise
The teacher was articulate and had the ability to describe what I was to do in a pose and then how to make that happen. He demonstrated the poses being taught and invited us to all watch him closely. Then we practiced the pose and he observed us keenly to see what we missed. He demonstrated again and we repeated the pose. The end result was impressive. Alignment improved and concentrated deepened.
Rich Diversity of Poses are Utilized
Iyengar Yoga has a rich, diverse collection of poses that are practiced over time. No two classes are the same. Each week there is a different emphasis. Standing, Seated, Arching, Twisting, Inverted, or Restorative. The creativity of the teacher is well exercised.
Home Practice is Cultivated
As one moved through the various levels of classes, new sets of poses are learned and students cultivate the ability to develop a home practice. Practitioners are considered beginners for five years, but after only a couple months one feels as if mastery has begun. Confidence builds and the evolution of the yogi continues for years and years. It is a beautiful awakening of body, consciousness and soul.
There is an ineffable quality to Iyengar Yoga and one must try it to truly understand the uniqueness of the method. It is best to attend a few consecutive classes to investigate the teacher, the variety of sequences and the effects created. As an educated consumer you will be able to describe the differences for yourself. Do come.
Start your Iyengar Yoga training with our beautiful Iyengar Yoga Beginner Pose Guide. Download for viewing on your mobile device or order a poster size print today. Featuring 28 basic poses along with the Sanskrit and English names, our guide will assist you in your home practice. Click below to view: