Best known for its use of props, Iyengar yoga makes the asanas, or poses, more achievable for all levels of students—particularly beginners.
Iyengar yoga was created by B.K.S. Iyengar, born in 1918, as a unique form of hatha yoga. The world-renowned guru has published more than a dozen books on yoga and the health benefits of yoga. Iyengar yoga incorporates all eight ashtangas, or aspects, of yoga from the foundation texts, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Using Iyengar Yoga Props to Increase Flexibilit
Although most yoga equipment stores sell a variety of yoga blocks and straps, Iyengar props can often be improvised. A good sticky yoga mat, however, is essential equipment for all beginners.
Examples of Iyengar yoga props:
belt or strap
foam yoga block
wooden yoga block
In conjunction with an experienced teacher, Iyengar practitioners use these props to achieve perfect alignment in asanas. Yoga props can be used in a wide-range of sitting, standing, twisting, bending, and supine poses.
Proper Alignment for Beginners through Iyengar Yoga
Proper alignment is paramount in Iyengar yoga. Starting with the feet and working upwards through the limbs, pelvis, spine, and head, this style of yoga strives for the entire body to be perfectly aligned during and in between poses. Maintaining this alignment requires strength and flexibility.
For beginner yoga students in particular, yoga props can make the practice of asanas less daunting, safer, and invigorating. Props help beginners overcome the challenges of limited flexibility and advance their practices.
Over time, Iyengar yogis adjust their use of props as they achieve better alignment, build strength, improve balance, and gain flexibility. For this reason, Iyengar yoga is often well suited to students who are recovering from injury or new to fitness.
Health Benefits of Iyengar Yoga
Beyond increased flexibility, improved overall health, better circulation, enhanced strength, and a more developed mind-body connection, Iyengar yoga is linked to improved healing. B.K.S. Iyengar has written on the health benefits for specific ailments in Yoga: a Path to Holistic Health, while many scientific studies have also tied yoga practice to overall wellness.
Recently, a Washington State University study linked Iyengar yoga to improvement in the immune systems of women recovering from breast cancer.
How to Find an Iyengar Yoga Teacher
During Iyengar yoga classes, the yoga teacher instructs students verbally and through demonstration. Descriptions of the poses are precise and incorporate the yoga props to accommodate a wide-range of ability levels. Iyengar yoga instructors will modify the poses to meet the level of the student.
The official website of B.K.S. Iyengar lists certified teachers in more than 40 countries. Alternately, many yoga teachers incorporate into hatha yoga classes.
Another great resource to draw from is the book Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar. This essential reading provides a wealth of information for students and offers more insight on the philosophy of yoga, illustrates poses with precise pictures, and details the health benefits of Iyengar yoga.
How To Find Yoga Classes Near You
Now, more than ever, people are taking up yoga.
Patients are being sent to yoga classes as a part of weight-loss programs, and for treatment of ailments from hypertension to arthritis or asthma. Hearing about the mind-body benefits of a regular yoga practice inspires new students to try to find classes every day.
Here are a few ideas about how to go about locating a yoga class in your own neighborhood that fits your budget and your personality.
Use Free Classes to Try Yoga
Many studios and shops will offer free or reduced-rate yoga classes as a way of getting people interested in the activity. When you’re researching studios in your area, be sure to ask about any promotional rates.
Any of the search techniques listed below could crop up with dozens of different kinds of Yoga class. Determining which kind of yoga is right for you is a matter of personal preference. There are pros and cons for just about every type, and the best way to figure out which one is best suited to you is to try a few different teachers, styles and studios out before committing to a package deal for lower class rates.
Tap into the Holistic Wellness Community
The popularity of Yoga is not growing in a vacuum. Consumers are more aware of wellness and their holistic health overall. Often, the practitioners of these various Wellness disciplines are friends and peers of the yoga instructors in your area.
Free circulars, flyers and advertisements in the lobbies and entrances to many of these places will include yoga studios, classes and workshops nearby.
Local Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Naturopathic Doctors, Massage Schools, and other holistic healthcare professionals
Stores or retail shops that sell yoga supplies and equipment
Fitness Centers: dance studios, gyms, churches, senior centers, even the local YMCA / YWCA, and local universities often have Yoga classes added to their schedules for very reasonable rates.
Search for Yoga Classes Online
Some online directories offer more information than others. Certain directories allow for reviews to be added by customers, descriptions of style and philosophy to be added by the studio, while others only list contact information.
A few of the better searchable directories for Yoga classes and studios include:
Everything Yoga Directory
Yoga Journal Directory
Yoga.com Studio Search
If a yoga studio has a website, you can read about their schedules and teachers online, before trying them out. Beginning students are encouraged to ask as many questions
Once you have located a reputable studio, with qualified, certified instructors, be sure to understand safety tips and yoga class etiquette. So, you’ll be sure to look like a pro even on your first day.
Also, keep in mind that there are as many different kinds of yoga as there are yoga teachers – and you may not find the perfect fit on the first try out.
Yoga is always referred to as a “Practice” not a routine or workout, because even the instructors and gurus who have been studying yoga for years do not expect themselves to do everything perfectly.
So, keep practicing!