Iyengar Yoga is a method of practice and instruction developed by the living yoga master, B.K.S. Iyengar, who in 65 years of teaching has brought classical yoga into the modern age. His many publications, including Light on Yoga, are considered definitive. Iyengar Yoga is a systematic and dynamic practice, with an emphasis on precise alignment and therapeutics.
The practice of Iyengar Yoga will often result in eliminating aches and pains as well as improving posture. It can be used to treat many ailments, including extremely serious medical conditions, under the supervision of a suitably experienced teacher. B.K.S. Iyengar has structured and categorized the asanas to allow a students to progress surely and safely from basic postures to the most advanced as they gain flexibility, strength and sensitivity in mind, body and spirit. Props and modifications are utilized, allowing access for all ages, body types, and levels of conditioning.
The classes cover the full range of classical postures and end with quiet relaxation poses. Asana, or posture, the ancient yogic practice of exercise, is the aspect of yoga most familiar to the western world. Correct body alignment allows the body to develop harmoniously in an anatomically correct way so that the student suffers no injury or pain when practicing correctly. The use of props in Iyengar Yoga help one adjust or support oneself in the correct positions required so that one can work in a range of motion that is safe and effective. Yoga asanas develop strength, flexibility, balance, and stamina while cultivating discipline, courage, sensitivity, and compassion.
All systems of the body are affected: muscular, skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, reproductive, endocrine, lymphatic, and the nervous system. The stillness of the poses provides an opportunity to focus inwardly on the breath. The close attention of the mind to body and breath enhances concentration, reduces stress, stabilizes the emotions, and allows for a sense of inner peace.
Pranayama, the yogic system of breathing, is started once a firm foundation in asana has been established as physically the student requires the alignment, flexibility, lung capacity and training necessary to sit and breathe correctly while practicing. Pranayama gives numerous physical benefits including toning the circulatory, digestive, nervous and respiratory systems, activating the internal organs and creating a feeling of energy and calmness. Equally importantly it also brings the mind and senses under control and makes the individual fit for the experience of meditation. Mastery of the body is the gateway to mastery of the mind. The intensity and depth to which pranayama is practiced on the physical level affects and changes the mind and spirit. Smooth subtle and controlled breathing is far easier to master than the mind, when the breath becomes smooth and steady so does the mind. In Pranayama one learns to withdraw the senses from external objects and cultivates a peaceful state of mind.