Yoga's Stress Free Zone


When stressful events strike, powerful hormones are released into the blood stream. A toxic stew wears and tears our organic body and weakens the immune system. My first exposure to the biochemistry of stress came from The Stress of Life by Hans Selye. It was a fascinating read for me at the time. Modern inventions such as voice mail, cell phones, and computers were accelerating the pace of life. Cigarettes were being revealed as the killers they are. Heart disease, cancer and diabetes were on the rise. As a budding yoga teacher, I felt passionate about yoga's ability to reduce the strength of the fight of flight (or freeze) response and bolster one's resistance to stress. My experience showed me how a regular yoga practice toned the parasympathetic nervous system, the pathway to relaxation and digestion. 

Practice and Detachment

B.K.S. Iyengar said these principles are two wings on the bird of yoga. We are encouraged to practice diligently, uninterruptedly, for an extended period and to let go of those habits that prevent us from doing so. On a practical level, when we step on our mat to practice, we become detached from distraction. We cultivate a muscular mental body and concentrate on the task at hand: our practice, which must be heartfelt rather than mechanical. With the tools of yoga we create a state of concentration on the physical body and the breath. 

What are the tools of yoga?

The more one studies the Self, the more one discovers the power of these hidden jewels. The most obvious tool is our vehicle, the body, our ride while on this planet. We use our muscles and bones to mold ourselves into iconic shapes called asanas, yoga poses. As the asana is held, the organic body is stretched, squeezed, flushed and rinsed in a unique manner. The breath is the second tool. The point is to engage the breath in a deliberate manner to energize the body, deliver prana, and rid oneself of impurities. While these first two aspects are more superficial, when we engage our consciousness, the third tool, the practice becomes more absorbing and we penetrate inward. We exist in a witnessing state and are at the threshold of Yoga's Stress Free Zone. 

Moving from Learning to Understanding to Mastery

At Iyengar Yoga Source students learn to practice in this manner and as the weeks go by they become more proficient with the process. One can learn the process with simple poses which makes these teachings accessible to first year students. There are many other tools to utilize while practicing yoga. Come and practice with us and find your Stress Free Zone. It will make you feel whole, together and in harmony with your Self. 

Standing on your own two feet.

by Linda DiCarlo

Life is constantly challenging us to maintain stability, strength and stamina under unusual circumstances. Occasionally we are thrown off balance, feel sluggish or run out of gas and have to retreat. To remain focused during these tough times requires physical as well as mental muscles. A standing pose yoga practice can transform your legs and your core, improve stability and equilibrium as well as develop your mental acuity. 

Each Standing Pose Has a Different Shape

By working with a wide variety of standing positions the legs are engaged to maximize stability in the hips, knees and ankles. Even though the position may be held for less than a minute, when repeated on a regular basis, these muscles, bones and joints become stronger and more flexible. Equally important is the vestibular system, located in the inner ear. It impacts your ability to balance and is challenged to become more adapt by the demands of unique positions. 

Upper Body Strength and Coordination are Engaged in a Deliberate Manner

While the lower body has its clear intention, the upper body is held steady to compliment the work of the lower body. The standing poses become full body poses. Extension and expansion of the entire embodiment becomes a reality and this awakens one's awareness in an interesting manner. 

The Breath is Called to Action in Each Pose

Of course we breath on a regular basis, but in yoga poses normal breathing is not enough. The breath works as diligently as the body and interestingly works as a tool for purification. In addition to the unusual task of gaseous exchange occurring in the alveoli of the lungs, the positive life force of prana rides on the breath. The body becomes saturated with these initial components and the end result is that consciousness spreads and awakens the intelligence in your vehicle, the body. 

We practice Standing Poses in just about every class. Certain sequences place a greater emphasis on this category of poses. Come and practice with us and experience the points I have mentioned above. See for yourself. 

What is So Different About Iyengar Yoga?

What is So Different About Iyengar Yoga?

by Linda DiCarlo

Linda teaches beginning to advanced students at the Iyengar Yoga Source in Providence, RI.

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: