There are numerous types of Yoga depending on the philosophy by which they are governed. Iyengar yoga is a great unknown to many, but it has numerous benefits for physical and mental health.
Founded by BKS Iyengar in the 1960s, Iyengar yoga is based on the yoga sutras and works to strengthen the mind-body connection. ” Yoga teaches us to heal what does not need to be endured and to endure what cannot be cured ,” Iyengar once said. He believed that a balanced body led to a balanced mind, hence Iyengar yoga’s unique combination of meditation and movement.
Based on the eight traditional limbs of yoga, Iyengar places an emphasis on performing asanas, or postures. He also emphasizes the importance of detail, precision and alignment when performing these poses, as well as combining this with breath control or pranayama.
As one of the most traditional and widely practiced styles in the world, one of the benefits of Iyengar yoga is that it uses props, allowing students to perform poses safely and progressively at their own pace.
This type of yoga is also beneficial because although the practice focuses on asanas, it also promotes mental and spiritual well-being. Therefore, the idea of practicing Iyengar is that it helps you develop balance in the body; the balance in the mind will also follow.
Structure of an Iyengar class
The truth is that this type of yoga is not very different in structure from the rest of the classes. An example session would be:
- Principle – Most classes begin with a few quiet moments of reflection, to help prepare the mind for Iyengar yoga.
- Preliminary Postures – These are then performed as a warm-up, to mobilize the body and quiet the mind, encouraging a focused state of mind.
- Standing Poses – These poses form the foundation for more advanced poses, so it is important that students first understand the proper alignment of the basic poses.
- Special Poses – The practice can then move on to some more advanced asanas, including back bends, forward bends, inverted poses, recovery poses, or even more standing poses.
- End – The class will end with some more restorative and revitalizing poses, and some elements of pranayama may also be incorporated.
Differences with other types of yoga
Although we may be aware of what Iyengar yoga is, it is interesting to know the distinctions with other styles of yoga.
rhythm and time
One of the main differences is that it moves at a much slower pace. During classes, asanas are performed over a relatively long period of time and focus on quality of movement rather than quantity.
This mindful approach gives your muscles time to relax and lengthen, and helps prevent injury, which is one of the reasons Iyengar yoga is best for beginners.
Precision in movements
In most styles of yoga, practitioners are encouraged to independently find their way into the asanas, using a more experiential approach.
One of the main differences between Iyengar and other styles of yoga is that Iyengar classes are much more precise. This means that the teacher will actively correct any misalignment and explain how to correctly perform each pose with precision and accuracy.
This focus on precision is not only designed to ensure that students perform asanas correctly, but also encourages proper human functioning on a deeper level.
Unlike other styles, one of the benefits of Iyengar yoga is that it has more than 200 postures and 14 breathing techniques. Although most sessions are done in a similar way, all the way up to the top pose, teachers have many different asanas to choose from and can collect them in any sequence they like.
This means that no two classes will ever be the same, unlike styles like Bikram or Ashtanga yoga, which have set sequences. So who and what Iyengar yoga is good for is for people who like variety in their practice.
Use of accessories
What Iyengar yoga is best known for, compared to other types of yoga, is its use of props. Although props are used in other styles, Iyengar yoga makes full use of them to help students maintain postures in alignment when they are beginners, have a chronic condition, are injured, or are inflexible.
Studios that teach Iyengar yoga classes have a wide variety of props, including blocks, blankets, straps, chairs, and cushions.
There are numerous advantages of practicing this type of yoga.
The first of the many benefits of Iyengar yoga is that it helps build muscle strength. In exploring how Iyengar differs from other styles of yoga, we learn that students are encouraged to hold the poses for much longer. Holding these asanas for more than a minute at a time creates a connection between the mind and the muscles, allowing the muscles to be more engaged.
In turn, this encourages the muscles to build strength. The more often we do Iyengar, and the more often your muscles are exposed to this resistance, the stronger they will become. As you build strength, you will be able to perform more advanced asanas, which will challenge your muscles to a greater extent.
Increases mental well-being
The reason Iyengar yoga is the best form of self-care is because it increases the production of a mood-boosting chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid , known as GABA, in the brain.
The release of this chemical encourages lower levels of anxiety and better general well-being. As we know, Iyengar emphasizes a focus on precise alignment of the body while performing asanas. This focus on alignment allows you to be fully present in the practice and unplugs your brain from other thoughts, particularly negative ones.
It also focuses on pranayama , or the breath. Without realizing it, many of us hold our breath during times of stress, so emphasizing the importance of deep breathing really helps to relax and de-stress the body.
There are many health benefits of Iyengar yoga, and one of them is that it can really help improve posture. This is because, as we know, holding poses helps strengthen the muscles in the body that are responsible for good posture, including those in the legs, back, and torso.
When asanas are performed with proper alignment, smaller muscles that are often ignored will also be strengthened, meaning you’ll find yourself sitting and standing straighter more often.
Alleviate the pain
We know that Iyengar yoga benefits posture, which means it can also help relieve much of the pain that comes from poor posture. This is because focusing on correct alignment while performing asanas can help overcome back and neck pain caused by slouching, slouching, and muscle weakness.
For example, what Iyengar yoga is good for is to relieve lower back pain, if practiced regularly. This is because it can help improve the flexibility of your hamstrings, which are the group of muscles at the back of your thighs.
Rise the levels of energy
Due to the release of endorphins during practice, as well as increased blood flow to the brain, another health benefit of Iyengar yoga is that it helps increase energy levels.
Compared to more rigorous exercise, which can shake your body, practicing gentle yoga poses helps improve circulation and oxygen flow, without overly tiring your body. Therefore, Iyengar encourages relaxation throughout the body, which can improve sleep, reduce insomnia, and increase our energy levels.