The Body Mind Center
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Fergus Falls, MN


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What Is Iyengar Yoga?

BKS Iyengar


Iyengar Yoga is a term coined by students of B.K.S. Iyengar, who is a living master in Pune, India. He has been practicing and teaching since he was a teenager, and he is now 90 years old. He wrote the classic book published in 1966, "Light on Yoga", and has published several more since then. The type of yoga in this "school" or "system" is based on Mr. Iyengar's years of deep study, practice and teaching, and he is recognized worldwide for his gifts in these areas and for his rigorous training programs for teachers who follow his methods. Mr Iyengar has systematized over 200 classical yoga Asanas and 14 different types of Pranayamas (with variations of many of them) from the simple to the incredibly difficult. It is a "classical" type of yoga, based on the ancient texts and the teaching of a traceable lineage of teachers. It starts with the learning of "asanas", a Sanskrit word meaning postures.

These have been structured and categorized so as to allow a beginner to progress surely and safely from basic postures to the most advanced as they gain flexibility, strength and sensitivity in body, mind and spirit. In practice Iyengar yoga focuses particularly on three aspects. 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. As all bodies are different and people have different weaknesses and strengths. Mr Iyengar has also developed the use of props to help the body into the correct positions required. Props are objects like wooden blocks, chairs, blankets and belts that help one adjust or support oneself in the different postures so that one can work in a range of motion that is safe and effective.

The postures, (asanas) are given to perfect health and wellness, and to train the mind and consciousness. Yoga is a complete subject, which begins with postures that seem merely physical from outside observation but are experienced by practitioners as tools for awakening awareness and consciousness to tune the systems of the body and self. The underlying principles include non-violence and truthfulness in dealing with others and the goal is integration of all the parts of the self, from the periphery to the inner core or essence (soul).

The Iyengar method of Yoga may be said to define itself as different from other styles of Yoga by 3 key elements, namely technique, sequence and timing:

Technique means that in practice one learns ever finer adjustments in the alignment of how one performs one's asana and pranayama.

Sequence refers to the sequences in which asana and pranayama are practiced. For example, by varying which postures are practiced after which, the mental and emotional effects of the practice can be intensified in a manner not otherwise possible in order to bring about changes to the whole being including ones spiritual evolution.

Timing refers to the length of time spent in postures or pranayama. Postures cannot be done swiftly or without awareness. It takes time to move into a posture and become stable. When this has been achieved then one remains stably for some time to intensify the depth of the posture and so extract its benefit. Otherwise the potential effects and benefits remain small compared to what is possible.

Iyengar yoga cultivates all 8 disciplines of yoga and is far from merely "gymnastics and deep breathing." With practice and understanding, one realises that Asana (posture) is as different from stretching or gymnastics just as Pranayama (Breath control) is different from merely deep breathing and meditation is different from self-induced trance.

The prolonged practice of asana and pranayama affects the individual on an organic (physiological), mental and spiritually level as well as just physically.


A Note for New Students

You do not have to be "in shape," young and flexible to join a yoga class. The yoga poses are a unique form of exercise in that the same pose can benefit all body types. They build strength where strength is needed; they build flexibility where flexibility is needed; they release tension where it is unwanted. Prolonged yoga practice increases the individual’s physiological, psychological and spiritual wellbeing. Please join us at the Body Mind Center to begin your journey.


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