Yoga is an ancient Indian discipline that was captured in the Yoga Sutras of the sage, Patanjali.
The word yoga derives from the Sanskrit 'yug', meaning to yoke, join or unite. This refers to the union of body, mind and spirit - to achieve a happy, balanced and purposeful life.
Yoga is an holistic approach to exercise that balances body, mind & spirit
Iyengar yoga is the world's most widely practised method of yoga, and is named after BKS Iyengar. Based on classical Hatha Yoga it provides a systematic approach to learning yoga postures and is firmly based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Iyengar Yoga has three main characteristics which distinguishes it from other yoga styles:
- technique : it focuses on precision and correct alignment of the body in a pose
- sequencing : the order in which poses are taught depending on the desired effect of the class
- timing: holding poses for longer periods of time allows for greater benefits
In class props, such as belts, blocks, bricks, chairs, blankets, etc. are used for various reasons:
for people with less flexibility, a prop will help open the body and improve alignment
for more advanced students, a prop prompts the body to achieve more subtle actions with greater awareness
for people with injuries, props allow modifications of poses where the classical pose is not achievable
What might I expect at an Iyengar class?
Iyengar yoga classes include a variety of poses (or 'asanas' in Sanskrit) - standing poses, forward bends, backbends, seated poses, twists and inversions. Some classes include restorative (or restful) poses and breathing techniques (known as 'pranayama') - these focus on relaxation and rejuvenating the body.
The class starts sitting quietly for a short time preparing the mind and bringing inward awareness.
Each class is dynamic, and the focus changes from week to week (i.e. forward bends versus twists, opening the chest versus building flexibilty in the hips) - so no two classes are ever the same.
The teacher demonstrates poses to highlight specific teaching points, relevant to the class focus. Adjustments are given specific to an individual or for all students' to help align the body correctly.
The class ends with a short period of relaxation, lying in 'Savasana' - when the body can rest and absorb the work it has done. With practice the body will be able to completely relax, whilst the mind remains alert.
iyengar certification mark
Only teachers who hold and display this Mark are qualified and insured to teach Iyengar yoga. It shows that they have been correctly trained and assessed to teach safely and thoroughly in the Iyengar Yoga method. A high level of excellence, purity and depth of understanding in yoga teaching and practice has to be achieved & maintained. Iyengar yoga teachers do not mix methods or dilute the teachings of the Iyengar system.
As a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher I am a member of the Iyengar Yoga Association of the UK. I am required to maintain a regular yoga practice and attend regular classes and workshops for continuing professional development and specialised training and also to retain the use of the International Certification Mark. For more information go to www.iyengaryoga.org.uk.