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What is Iyengar Yoga?

“When the asana is correct there is a lightness, a freedom.  Freedom comes whenever part of the body is active.  Let us be free in whatever postures we are doing.  Let us be full in whatever we do.”
B.K.S. Iyengar

Yoga in the Iyengar Tradition

Iyengar Yoga is based upon the teachings of Yoga Master B.K.S. Iyengar.  A tradition handed down to him by his teacher and brother-in-law Shri T. Krishnamacharya.  It is a complete approach to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual transformation that brings health, energy, wisdom and serenity to the practitioner.

Characteristics of Iyengar Yoga include:

  • An emphasis on poses to develop strength, stamina, concentration and body alignment, performed in a safe, orderly, systematic sequence.
  • Use of props such as blankets, blocks, straps and chairs to facilitate learning and provide proper adjustment to the needs of each practitioner, ensuring that every person will achieve perfection in every pose.
  • A highly developed approach to instruction that includes the precise use of language, demonstration and observation and individual correction and alignment of students.
  • Proper utilization of postures eases ailments and relieves stress while integrating the philosophy of yoga into the life of the practitioner within the classroom and outside of it.

Mr. Iyengar has authored a number of classic texts on hatha yoga including “Light on Yoga”.  In his 90’s, he continues to practice and teach yoga at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Institute in Pune, India, along with his daughter Geeta, son, Prashant and granddaughter, Abijata.


Benefits of the practice of Yoga

“Extension brings space, space brings freedom, freedom brings precision.  Precision is truth and truth is G-d.”
B.K.S. Iyengar

The benefits of yoga are many and include:

  • Proper functioning of organs, nerves and glands.
  • Improved circulation and respiration which are both essential ingredients for cardiovascular fitness
  • An aide to digestion
  • Strengthening the immune system.
  • Improved coordination.
  • Increased Vitality.
  • Stress Reduction.
  • Strengthening for the bones due to weight bearing nature of many of the poses.
  • An aid to the endocrine system in maintaining hormonal balance.

Yoga for healing—Meeting Your Needs

A unique approach uses yoga to help people adapt to and heal from physical challenges or illness and injury.  The Iyengar mission is to make yoga accessible to everyone – by using props (supports) to insure that every practitioner can perform each posture and realize its full benefits.

For instance if you have a back or neck weakness, every pose will be modified to ensure that you will not aggravate that weakness, but optimize its strengthening and healing potential.



What should I expect in a yoga class?

You should do the asanas with vigor and at the same time be relaxed and composed.”
B.K.S. Iyengar

Introductory to experienced levels of yoga classes helps the student find the proper class.  Class is typically 60-90 minutes in length and will include combinations of some or all of the following types of poses:

  • Standing poses for flexibility, strength and stamina
  • Seated & twists for a healthy supple back, poise and reflection.
  • Forward bends for calming and nurturing the body/mind
  • Inverted poses for strength, confidence, circulation and stress reduction.
  • Breathing awareness and deep relaxation for energy and renewal.

The poses or asanas have Sanskrit names that the teacher may use interchangeably with the English translation.  Props such as walls, mats, blankets, bolsters, blocks, belts and chairs are often used to modify or prepare the different degree of practice in yoga poses.

Breathing & Yoga

In the work of Pranayama, the back is the blackboard, the air comes to write, and the mind holds the chalk.”
B.K.S. Iyengar

In yoga class you will be invited to breathe in and out of the nostrils.  During class you may be asked to observe normal breathing in any position.  The awareness this brings is the beginning of another aspect of yoga, Pranayama.


What is Yoga?

If the foundation is firm the building can withstand calamities. The practice of yoga is the foundation so that the self is not shaken under any circumstances.”
B.K.S. Iyengar

Yoga is a classical Indian science or system dealing with wellbeing in mind, body and spirit.  The classical yoga system is depicted as an eight-limbed tree addressing ethical behavior, physical and spiritual practice for focus and concentration and meditation.  Yoga is not a belief or religion.  It is a practical philosophy, a science involving every aspect of a person’s being.  It encourages the evolution of the individual through the development of self-discipline and self-awareness.

What is commonly referred to as yoga in the West refers to the discipline of physical yoga.  Through a series of physical poses, called asanas, yoga teaches us how to quiet the mind by placing attention on the body and breathe.  A refined system of physical development, the practice of yoga focuses not only on flexibility but also on strength, balance and endurance.



At the end of yoga class, the teacher may bring the hands together in prayer like position and say to students, Namaste.  Namaste is a traditional Indian greeting of highest respect and reminds us that we are all on the same path.

            Within me, the highest place of love, of light, of truth, of peace…greets and honors the highest place within you…of love, of light, of truth, of peace…

            I honor the place within you…where if you are in that place in you…and I am in that place in me…there is only one of us…peace, peace, peace…





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