Iyengar yoga is a method of teaching & Learning Yoga.
The quick view
- Asana'a are to be performed with attention and awareness of the whole body and mind.
- All the systems of the body are deeply integrated, and the asana's affect all of them.
- Alignment, connections, and internal as well as external awareness of the body are key factors of learning the asana's.
- Asana's are beautiful, when performed with focus and devotion to the body.
- Props are to be used to facilitate learning, and to support and enable movements and postures that help to heal the body.
The late Yogacharya Shri B K S Iyengar developed this method of teaching yogasana, which has become known as Iyengar Yoga, but should be known accurately as teaching yogasana The Iyengar Way.
Guruji's evolution in the domain of Yogashastra has been unique. His guru - the late Yogacharya Shri T Krishnamachar of Mysore, was a very traditional style guru. Guruji learnt asanas from him, and then delved the depths of the entire spectrum of asana's and of Yogashastra (the science of yoga) through his own intense practice and a deep study of Patanjali's Yogasutra. Guruji transformed his asana practice with what he learned from the Yogasutra's. This is perhaps the most unique achievement in the world of yoga. The other effect of this study by himself, was his deep conviction that to teach "how to learn" is the fundamental approach in spreading the art of yoga. The approach that one must help the students learn in different ways, and experience the effects of the actions that they are learning, is what the Iyengar Way is all about.
When Guruji took a class, he was really sharing what he himself had learnt through his practice of yogasana and beyond. He would be constantly saying - "...that is how you should learn!" by doing the asana as intensely as they should be done so that you would experience the benefits that each asana gives.
The origin of his taking up the study of yogasana was to improve his own poor heath as a young boy. He understood how asana's help to bring in not only good health, but also remove ill-health through enabling the body to heal itself. He devoted great time and attention to identifying the use of asana's and variations, to deliver therapeutic benefits to people, thus alleviating many health issues.
The use of props has been identified by many as a hall mark of Iyengar yoga. but really, the props are an acceptance of the reality that there are bodies, and then there are bodies. Agile, flexible, toned, strong, feeble, impaired, stiff, and even disease stricken. But none of that should be a hindrance to the person in acquiring the full experience and learning of an asana. The props help the student overcome his physical limitations, and "go for the asana". The props also play a huge part in delivering the therapeutic benefits of various asana's. This is one of the most significant achievements of Iyengar Yoga.