Following the well-attended masterclass that we held at The Centre recently with international Iyengar Yoga teacher Stefano Bendanti, we decided this would be a perfect time to explore this precise and clear method of practicing yoga in a little more depth.

Iyengar yoga was first established and developed by B. K. S. Iyengar in the 1970’s as a form of classic Hatha Yoga, with a focus on detail, precision and alignment in each Asana.  B. K. S. Iyengar was a direct disciple of T. Krishnamacharya, and together with a small group of other yogis including Patabbhi Jois (the developer of Ashtanga Yoga), he helped to bring modern yoga to the Western world.

Believing that yoga was for everyone, beyond and limitations of age or physical or mental health, B. K. S. Iyengar made yoga accessible in the west and can be credited for a large part of yoga’s rise in popularity.

So, how does Iyengar Yoga stand out from the crowd?

  • Alignment: The Iyengar style pays a great amount of attention to the correct alignment of the body in each pose.
  • Time: In the Iyengar style, poses are often held for longer in order to develop strength, balance, stability and flexibility. Once the body has managed to achieve the stability needed to hold the pose, it is then easier and safer to go deeper into the Asana both physically and mentally.
  • Props: Although props are used in various schools of yoga, it was the Iyengar technique that first introduced the use of blocks, bricks, bolsters and belts in order to help students of diverse abilities to get into a pose. Props also help to increase body awareness and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Diversity: Iyengar Yoga can also be distinguished by the diversity of the practise. Rather than doing the same sequence in each class, the poses and the sequences constantly change each session
  • Mindfulness: While mindfulness is taught, and practised across all schools of yoga, Iyengar Yoga applies the same precision and careful attention to detail to its approach to mindfulness ensuring.
  • Self-Awareness: Iyengar promotes the development of self-awareness, both in the body, the mind and the connection between the two. Finding a balance between the physical and emotional body.
  • Safety: Iyengar Yoga places a great deal of emphasis on the safe practise of each pose dependent on the different needs of each student. This – like everything in yoga – ties in with the other point, as with the correct alignment, mindfulness and awareness, a safe practise is easier to attain.
  • Methodical Progression: Each Iyengar Yoga class is taught in a methodical way, progressing through the poses in a structured way to ensure the safety of the body and to maintain balance between body, mind and breath.

Iyengar Yoga can be practised by anyone and everyone regardless of the challenges they may face, the practise is suitable for beginners and advanced yogis alike and will benefit the student or practitioner in numerous ways, including connecting with your body and your breath; releasing tension and stress; increasing your energy, focus, clarity and concentration; improve postural/structural problems within the body and improve physical and psychological health.