What is Iyengar yoga?
For more than 70 years B.K.S. Iyengar (1918) dedicates his life to the hatha Yoga and developed a startling and for many inspiring innovation in what he himself calls the classical yoga according to the eightfold path (Astangha yoga), described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open'” – B.K.S. Iyengar
By his own practice, uncompromising and always powerful and vital, he has reached back to the roots of yoga, so that it was revitalized for the 20th century.
His approach to yoga emphasizes the development of inner strength and stamina, flexibility, balance and concentration, resulting from the constant and balanced practice of yoga. Striking for this way of working is the personal approach and attention to the individual needs of the different bodies.
There are a number of features. There are a variety of tools used in an innovative way (props), aimed at the maximum opening and stretching and by bringing a good blood supply into several parts and organs of the body. So they can be used as support where one still has difficulties with the body posture (asana), or more generally to understand the yoga practice.
The ‘aiming’ or ‘straight positioning’ (Alignment) is essential in Iyengar’s concept. ‘ The median line is God ‘ is a well known quote of him. From the middle, the perfect balance, the body is elongated, stretched out. If somewhere the body over stretches, this automatically indicates there is too little awareness on another place and that part of the body doesn’t stretch enough. This is what Iyengar calls; “the Art of Precision, the perfect balance”. This deepening refinement develops the consciousness, and the intelligence of the body.
Along with this, also the order in which the asanas (postures) are done is of great importance. The form seems to be static because the body postures often are held for a long period to bring to the light, all that body and mind avoid in order to hide and protect themselves and the “I”. Understanding arises from these confrontations, not to go out of the way but to let go. The body becomes translucent and bright as the air around it. The right effort does not consist of hard work to get strong muscles, and therefore the length of the asanas can be sustained, but the right effort is to develop the intelligence in the body. Yoga as the way that systematically teaches one to recognize again the spirit, the ‘ absolute’, and to life and to be from there.
One of the great merits of B.K.S. Iyengar is that its vital and sparkling approach to hatha yoga not linger in the knowledge from days gone by.
It is a powerful, refreshing and fully alive method and hundreds of thousands of yoga students from all parts of the world have encountered this. It can teach you in these modern times to stand with open mind and with both feet strongly on the ground, and to be aware and to love life without discrimination.
“Yoga is precision in action” B.K.S. Iyengar