Iyengar Yoga is based on the teachings of the yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar who began teaching in Pune, India, in 1936 at the age of 18 and continued to teach until he passed away at the age of 95 in August 2014.
Iyengar Yoga emphasises precision and alignment. Quality of movement is prioritised. In Iyengar Yoga, you learn to move with ease in your body while working within your limitations. This makes the postures (asanas) safe to perform.
The practice is progressive, building a stable foundation before attempting more demanding work.
The unique aspect of our method is the use of various props (belts, blocks, blankets) to help students of varying degrees of flexibility and awareness understand and experience the asanas (poses) more completely.
Yoga has been described as meditation in action, namely because of the way that students learn to practice with a deep awareness of their body, breath and mind. Practicing the postures with awareness has an integrating effect - it harmonises mind and body.
Over the 80 years of BKS Iyengar teaching students from all around the world - from the healthy to the sick, from many cultures, from many countries, from young to old, students of all sizes, students of all proportions, students of varying physical abilities, and students of varying mental aptitudes - he has evolved a method of learning and studying yoga that is deeply profound. His insights and approach are borne of wisdom - and when we follow the methods he has expounded we can ourselves tap into our own wisdom that is inherent in each of us.
As Mr. Iyengar’s unique insights and methods spread around the world, it became popularly known as Iyengar Yoga. Students called it “Iyengar Yoga” to differentiate the methods being taught by Mr. Iyengar from other methods or styles.
Mr. Iyengar himself does not call it “Iyengar Yoga”, to him Yoga is Yoga.
“I have no right to brand my practices or teachings as Iyengar Yoga. My pupils, who follow me, call it Iyengar Yoga. The only thing I am doing is to bring out the in-depth, the hidden qualities of Yoga to the awareness of you all. What I do is pure, authentic traditional Yoga. It is wrong to differentiate traditional yoga Iyengar Yoga, as it is also not fair to brand Yoga, as Raja-yoga, Hatha-yoga, Laya-yoga, Kundalini-yoga, Taraka-yoga and so forth. There is no distinction between one Yoga and another. Yoga, like God is one.BKS Iyengar
Defining Characteristics of Iyengar Yoga
At a talk at Mr. Iyengar’s 80th birthday celebrations in Pune in 1999, his son Prashant suggested three defining characteristics:
Technicalities are the precise and often subtle technical points given to explore the asana fully.
Renowned in Iyengar yoga, sequencing is the way postures are put together to achieve a particular physical, physiological or mental effect. Sequencing can apply to postures, or even to points in postures, and can totally transform a practice.
Timings are the ways that the postures can be held for different lengths of time to enable a more profound exploration of the physical and mental challenges in the pose. These three features together (technicalities, sequencing, timings) externally define the development of Yoga, yet only represent some of the aspects of yoga that Mr Iyengar has highlighted and examined over his 80 years of constant practice.