Iyengar Yoga, created by B. K. S. Iyengar, is a form of yoga known for its use of props, such as belts, blocks, and blankets, as aids in performing asanas (postures). The props enable students to perform the asanas correctly, minimizing the risk of injury or strain, and making the postures accessible to both young and old. The development of strength, mobility, and stability are emphasized through the asanas.
Iyengar Yoga is firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as expounded by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, which includes yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi.
A form of Hatha Yoga, it focuses on the structural alignment of the physical body through the development of asanas. Through the practice of a system of asanas, it aims to unite the body, mind and spirit for health and well-being. This discipline is considered a powerful tool to relieve the stresses of modern-day life which in turn can help promote total physical and spiritual well-being.
Iyengar Yoga is characterized by great attention to detail and precise focus on body alignment. Iyengar pioneered the use of “props” such as cushions, benches, blocks, straps, and even sand bags, which function as aids allowing beginners to experience asanas more easily and fully than might otherwise be possible without several years of practice. Props also allow tired or ill students to enjoy the benefits of many asanas via fully “supported” methods requiring less muscular effort.
Standing poses are emphasized in Iyengar Yoga. They are said to build strong legs, increase general vitality, and improve circulation, coordination and balance, ensuring a strong foundation for study of more advanced poses.
Unlike more experiential approaches where students are encouraged to independently “find their way” to the asanas by imitating the teacher, an Iyengar Yoga class is highly verbal and precise, with misalignments and errors actively corrected. Iyengar teachers complete at least two years of rigorous training for the introductory certificate. They may complete subsequent intermediate levels and senior levels of certification, potentially entailing a decade or more of training.