Iyengar Yoga is a system of hatha yoga developed by B.K.S. Iyengar; it is rooted in the traditional eight limbs of yoga as explained by Patanjali in The Yoga Sutras. Iyengar who was also direct disciple of T. Krishnamacharya with Patabbhi Jois (who developed Ashtanga Yoga) were responsible for bringing the practice of modern yoga (as we know it now) to the West.
As a widely practiced style, Iyengar Yoga continues to provide benefits to all practitioners. Although there are numerous reasons to practice Iyengar yoga, here are 4 reasons to give this practice a try:
1. It can be adapted for beginners
Iyengar Yoga offers a balanced and progressive method to Hatha yoga through its emphasis on sequencing asanas (yoga postures). Unlike classes in other styles, a typical Iyengar Yoga class for beginners always starts with basic standing poses as the grounding element. The legs and arms are part of the “karmendriya,” or organs of action. They provide the structural foundation for the rest of the body. Forward-bending and lateral twisting poses are also introduced to continuing beginners. They prepare students for inversions, backbends, and arm-balancing poses. In a class, poses are organized to improve flexibility, strength and to prepare the mind and body for pranayama (yogic breathing) and dhyana (meditation).
2. It creates a greater sense of body awareness
The practice of Iyengar Yoga helps practitioners develop body awareness through focus on postural alignment. The emphasis on alignment is the basis of the practice. Instructions on how to do the poses direct attention and awareness to different parts of the body. This awareness allows one to understand different “koshas,” or layers of the material body, like muscles, joints, organs and nadis (energy channels). This enhances a smooth flow of energy throughout the body and mind.
3. It’s totally safe practice
Iyengar Yoga offers a flexible and safe instruction, suited to the student’s needs through the use of props. Iyengar adopted the use of props to get students to move deeper into a pose. For students with physical or mental limitations, props provide invaluable support and feedback. The use of props builds flexibility and endurance. For example, in Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel pose), feet are on blocks to lift the pelvis and create more length in the lower back.
4. Like other styles of yoga, it’s universal
Iyengar Yoga is for everyone, at all ages and physical levels. Iyengar was the first modern yoga master to conduct “group classes.” Young or old, fit or weak, athletic or injured, people are drawn to Iyengar Yoga for its accessibility. Iyengar Yoga is available for all in their healing and rehabilitative process. In this sense, Iyengar Yoga clearly offers more benefits than just physical fitness. It is a holistic lifestyle of self-care and well-being.
Do you feel overwhelmed by endless to do lists? Are you stressed from work, university or a busy family life? For many people, busy has become the new “norm” due to more stimulation than we have ever seen before. We have transformed the way we live so it's not surprising that increased levels of anxiety, stress and stimulation are keeping us on edge all day and insomnia at night. That’s where yin yoga can be of benefit. Beginning with some mindfulness, a lot of stillness and self-love, you can start the journey to yin yoga to experience a powerful practice to help you relax, rejuvenate and reconnect to your true self.
What is Yin Yoga?
Yin Yoga, is a quiet yoga practice with long held poses structured to access your connective tissues, while healing both your physical and energetic body. The tissues accessed by yin yoga are responsible for 47% of your body's limited range of motion. By holding specific yoga asanas (poses) for 3-20 minutes, can create ample space to allow rest and relaxation into our lives; while offering fascinating new depths of flexibility and quiet peaceful thoughts into our busy minds.
In addition to the physical benefits of yin yoga, there are a myriad of psycho-emotional advantages to this practice. Drawn from the lineage of traditional Chinese medicine, yin yoga stimulates the movement of chi through twelve distinct meridian lines where we store many of our deepest emotions. Through extended holds, we create ample space for our bodies to energetically release these emotions and create a sense of clarity, calm and truth.
Benefits of Yin Yoga
How Yin Yoga is Unique
Finding Stillness: Your yin tissues are accessed in times of stillness - by relaxing your muscles and sinking into a space of non-rigid stillness. If you feel pain or sharpness allow moments of gentle movement and readjustment to uncover a place of stillness.
Find your edge: Your edge is your sweet spot, where sensation meets intensity, meets deep feeling. This is not a place of strain or pain. We go to our edge in yin yoga in order to encourage energetic flow and healing.
Holding Time: Yin poses are held anywhere from 3-20 minutes. Yin tissues are more plastic than elastic and require time to expand.
Many yoga practitioners relish the quiet space in yin yoga. From resolving the pains of arthritis, mobility, and flexibility, yin yoga is a powerful tool to add to your repertoire of healing modalities.
Acroyoga has become one of the fastest fitness and acrobatic trends for many reasons. From a fitness perspective, it changes your workout by using your muscles in ways you don’t use in everyday activities or in a regular yoga class. As a “base”, you will get a great workout for your quads, calves and toes when working with beginner poses and movements by learning how to push through your toes and legs to support another person. As a “flyer”, you will learn how to stay lifted and tight by engaging muscles while holding various poses. As your skills progress, they become more challenging, it is a full-body workout from head to toe.
Here are some common questions and concerns:
Is AcroYoga, yoga?
AcroYoga is not typical yoga. It is a whole new world of connection, awareness and possibility. The definition as described from AcroYoga.org is “AcroYoga blends the wisdom of yoga, the dynamic power of acrobatics and the loving kindness of healing arts. These three lineages form the foundation of a practice that cultivates trust, playfulness and community.” For many people it’s a chance to explore movements in a new way.
Will I get hurt?
In Acro you are taught to practice new skills with a spotter. This person is an extra set of eyes and hands. Their responsibility is to watch the movements, be prepared to catch the flyer and help bring the pose down safely should a fall occur. In a class setting teachers will often teach the safest way to fall out of a pose. Learning an exit strategy gives confidence to practice poses when there is no spotter around. When you first start practicing you may have some soreness or even some bruises. Just like any activity where you have to move your body in a new way your body will take some time to adapt. This is where a beginner class or workshop helps.
I’m not strong enough to lift someone.
In AcroYoga, you stack our bones rather than using muscle energy to lift up the flyers. When you are stacked the poses are grounded and the flyers can feel secure to move around. It may take a few tries to find this pace but it’s always best to practice with what feels good and what doesn’t. Your spotter also gives cues as to where you are in space, helping you find your sweet spot.
What’s the point of this?
If you are looking for a new way to gain strength, flexibility and meet some new people this is the place for you. Students go from zero body awareness to moving through poses with ease. AcroYoga is also a great way to meet new people, deepen your connection with partners, and cultivate trust.
How can I get involved?
The best way is to look online for workshops and classes in your area. It is best to get started learning from someone who can teach you proper technique, both for safety and ease of practice. AcroYoga is gaining popularity fast and there are many teachers willing to share their knowledge with you.
As much as AcroYoga may look intimidating and challenging, ANYONE and EVERYONE has the ability to learn it with ease. AcroYoga is a bright and exciting practice that integrates one’s individual yoga practice, partnership through dynamic acrobatics and healing through therapeutic bodywork.
Caution: If you are pregnant or have any kind of medical problem or injuries, or have had any injuries or problems in the past, or any other condition that may be adversely affected by exercise, such as neck or back problems, high blood pressure, etc., please consult your doctor before practicing acroyoga to determine whether and how you can practice safely.
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