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Alignment is key in this style of yoga, and the Iyengar method uses many props and equipment to ensure proper technique on each physical pose.
What is it?
Created by B.K.S. Iyengar, the Iyengar style was developed from the classic Hatha practice, with a major focus on technique and detail in each pose. Iyengar centres on over 200 physical poses (asanas) and also many breathing techniques (pranayamas). The importance of correct alignment is such that many Iyengar students do not progress to more advanced levels for years, until they have reached proper technique on their basic poses and sequences.
Poses are often worked in detailed sequences and held for longer periods of time, using different props and equipment such as bricks, straps, cushions, chairs, benches, and more to maintain the pose correctly. Teachers go through a rigorous certification program so they can teach this style of yoga correctly, and in the manner that B.K.S. Iyengar wanted. If you are looking for a way to improve the alignment and technique of your yoga poses, Iyengar is definitely the right practice for you.
A regular practice can have many physical and mental benefits!
Improves posture and alignment
Increases muscle tone
Aids in detoxification of your system
Increases sense of calm and reduces stress
Enhances mental focus
What to expect in your First Class?
Although the asanas and pranayamas change from class to class, you will see the detailed focus on every single part of the class, no matter how minute. Generally teachers start with more basic breathing techniques and physical poses before moving into the more demanding poses once your body is warmed up.
They will often go around the room to correct you in each pose, and ask you to use props and accessories to attain the correct technique. Although you may not move as much as a Vinyasa flow style class, Iyengar is quite demanding and you can still work up a sweat. Iyengar yoga can be done at any level, as there are many modifications possible for each pose, and it is very complimentary for people practicing other styles of yoga to improve the precision on their asanas, and to better understand the anatomy and benefits behind each pose.
What you need to practice - Comfort is key
Choose a mat that is grippy, stable and around 5mm thick.
Teachers generally want to be able to see the leg muscles to ensure students are using proper technique, so it’s best to wear shorts or leggings that fit close to the body that are breathable.
A tank top or t-shirt that is breathable and relatively form-fitting is best. Traditional Iyengar instructors generally advise to wear only cotton, but you will see many people practicing in synthetic materials as well due to their breathable qualities.
Iyengar makes use of basically every prop a yogi could dream of. Bricks, straps, cushions such as bolsters and zafus are widely used, as well as larger equipment such as chairs and benches.