Yoga, the body-mind-soul technique, has several sub-branches – Ashtanga, Kundalini, Bikram, Vinyasa, Jivamukti, Iyengar, Hatha Yoga and Yin. What distinguishes them is the specific body part or ailments they target as well as the techniques each of them follow.
Iyengar Yoga takes its name from its founder B.K.S. Iyengar, the man who played a key role in introducing yoga to the West. It is a traditional form of yoga that gives importance to breathing exercises (pranayama) and asanas to correct postural alignment. Another highlight feature of Iyengar yoga is the use of props.
This form of yoga has several benefits to the body and is one of the most accessible. Here’s a list of 7 reasons why I love Iyengar Yoga.
1. Stress buster – The asanas coupled with breathing exercises harmonizes the body and the mind. With better control over your mind, you are able to silence all internal talk in a stressful situation. It is like meditation; you concentrate on your body and breathing. Every asana is followed by the child pose, that lets your body and mind relax. Thus, it keeps physical and mental stress at bay. Not just that, practicing it on a regular basis develops mental clarity and improves concentration.
2. Builds postural strength – How Iyengar yoga benefits health is by creating an awareness of one’s own body. The poses you hold correct anatomical structure. There is a range of asanas to teach you how to stand, sit, sleep etc. The asanas also strengthen the core parts of the body such as the shoulders, back, arms and legs. These corrective measures also reduce stiffness in the joints and ligaments. Building body strength is very vital especially as the body ages.
3. Accessibility – Does the thought of yoga get you jittery? Do those back bends and leg stretches leave you wondering whether you will be able to do it? Iyengar Yoga is easy to pick up and follow as it lets you work at your pace. Iyengar Yoga takes into consideration the limitations and fitness levels of each individual. The use of props makes it more accessible. These include wooden blocks, belts, blankets, cushions, cylindrical pillows etc. They enable the person to hold a pose for a longer period building stamina gradually.
4. Increased flexibility – Iyengar Yoga stretches your muscles to their maximum potential. The inversions, stretches, twists and bends impact how flexibly you are able to move your body. Even if you lack flexibility when you start out, you have the props as an initial learning aid.
5. Back pain – This type of yoga is specially designed for people who experience chronic back pain. Back and neck problems are generally caused due to poor posture or muscular tension. Iyengar yoga helps overcome pain by correcting poor postural habits such as slouching.
6. Controlled appetite – In Iyengar Yoga, there is a special principle that teaches one how to regulate appetite by resisting cravings.
7. Immunity booster – Disease is often the result of a system or organ dysfunction. Iyengar yoga improves blood circulation in the body and strengthens the respiratory system. It has also shown to improve the digestive and nervous system by improving their function. By making sure all your systems are in top shape, it makes sure the body receives proper nutrition and builds resistance against infections and diseases.
In working out your body, Iyengar Yoga does not just focus on one particular muscle group, but exercises the whole body. It strengthens as well tones the muscles of your body. The breathing exercises leave you more energized at the end of the day. The generated energy is channeled properly throughout the body. As the focus in Iyengar Yoga is on body alignment, the chances of injury and pain are also reduced to the minimum.