What is Iyengar Yoga? How can you access the benefits?

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In the first quarter of 2017, we were delighted to welcomed a new teacher to the studio – Jacqui Simmonds. Jacqui is a Certified Level 1 and 2 Iyengar yoga instructor – a style of yoga which I love, and one which can really assist your wider practice.

Here at CYS, we are predominantly vinyasa (flow) focused. I have been looking for a permanent lyengar teacher to join us for quite a while now, as I know from personal experience how beneficial this style of yoga can be. And now, thanks to Jacqui, we are able to offer Iyengar as part of our weekly timetable.

What is Iyengar yoga?

To those unfamiliar with it, Iyengar is a form of Hatha Yoga named after and developed by B.K.S Iyengar – a yoga spiritualist and guru, considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. Based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga and the teachings of Patanjalis’ classical Yoga Sutra, Iyengar emphasises postural detail, precision and alignment.

Unlike other Hatha styles which take a more experiential approach to the asanas, encouraging you to follow the teacher and find your way into your comfortable seat, Iyengar by contrast is much more focused on getting the physical alignment right for your body — with any errors or misalignments actively corrected.

Another feature of Iyengar is that the poses are typically held for longer. Instead of moving swiftly from one to the next as you would in vinyasa, Iyengar requires you to maintain a pose long enough to understand and refine it. In addition, props such as belts, blocks and blankets are used to assist with enhancing alignment, customising to your anatomy, and minimising injury and strain.

My experience with Iyengar

In my first five years of being introduced to and training regularly in yoga, I practiced five days a week. Monday and Wednesday was dynamic Vinyasa Hatha, Tuesday and Thursday was Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, and Friday was Iyengar yoga.

I loved the vibrant flow of Vinyasa Hatha and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, but what really solidified the stability in my practice, refined my alignment and opened my body to its full extension was Iyengar. It also prepared and gave me the strength and confidence to move into inversions such as head stands, fore-arm balance, and shoulder stands. I didn’t feel rushed, and my body felt prepared getting into the pose.

Overall what I discovered was that when practiced together, vinyasa and Iyengar can be extremely complementary. After doing an Iyengar class, you will feel the new magnified capacity in your physical body at your next Vinyasa class.

Vinyasa happens at a certain pace and is great for meditative practice, but there is very little time for refining alignment. Iyengar, by contrast, gives you time to work on your poses, and therefore enables you to progress faster in vinyasa.

Weekly Iyengar classes

If you’re keen to explore the wonderful balance and support offered by Iyengar and to experience for yourself how it can complement vinyasa and other styles of practice, I encourage you to branch out and practise with Jacqui through these two avenues:

DROP-IN IYENGAR CLASS – open to all. Sign up through the timetable here.

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