Are you finding it difficult to achieve yogic poses? Well, not anymore! From yoga poses to props used to benefits, here’s everything about Iyengar yoga!
Hey! So, I’m back with yet another type of yoga in our yoga series articles – Iyengar yoga. This is an interesting form of yoga and I’m excited to share our guide with you. Although I’ve been practicing yoga for 6 years, I have struggled and still struggling to achieve a few advanced poses in yoga. Like the headstand! I so want to be flexible enough and prove to myself that I’m gonna twist my body. But with irregular practice and lack of patience, it’s still on my bucket list. But all thanks to our health, and wellness series, I have been writing about new yoga topics and I couldn’t be happier. These guides are inspiring me as much as I hope they’ll inspire you!
What is Iyengar Yoga?
This type of yoga was developed by B. K. S. Iyengar and is a form of hatha yoga. The usage of props while practicing yoga is one of the unique features of Iyengar yoga. It allows the practitioners to perform the poses easily regardless of age, physical condition or prior experience.
Who is B. K. S Iyengar?
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar also known as B. K. S Iyengar is the founder of Iyengar yoga. He was introduced to yoga at the age of 16. He has authored over 14 books on yogasanas and is recognized internationally, too. In one of his interviews, he mentioned that he practiced yoga for 3 hours and pranayama for an hour even at the age of 90. He died on 20 August 2014 in Pune.
Difference Between Iyengar and Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga is the traditional form of yoga. Basically, all other types of yogasanas are derived from hatha yoga like Ashtanga, Bikram, Power, Iyengar and many more. Hatha yoga includes various postures and breathing techniques for a fit body and mind.
Iyengar yoga is derived from hatha yoga. The postures remain the same but can be attempted using props. While performing certain asanas, it may be difficult to achieve it inspite of practice. So, it strives to make yoga accessible to everyone of any age group and interest using certain props.
Health Benefits of Iyengar Yoga
The health benefits is same as any other form of yoga style. From improved breathing to better posture to a calmer mind, there are numerous benefits of Iyengar yoga. After going through resources from yoga organizations and YogaJournal, I have listed the most important benefits of Iyengar yoga:
1. The postures are achieved through props, which in turn helps the practicer to maximum flexibility.
2. It also helps to tone the muscles as the body is stretched to the maximum while practicing the poses.
3. It also yields for better posture by strengthening your back, leg muscles and core.
4. Iyengar yoga improves to balance your body, which is especially important for those with sedentary lifestyles. When you were a kid, you would go out and play in grounds, which would contribute to your physical activities. But with lifestyle changes as an adult, our physical activities get reduced drastically. So it’s important to practice balancing poses in Iyengar yoga to help your body.
5. Breathing exercises are also a part of Iyengar yoga that help with a better supply of oxygen, improving heart health.
Calories Burned in Iyengar Yoga
Typically, any form of yoga burns 200 calories. But in Iyengar yoga, the poses are held for a longer period, say a minute to improve flexibility. So, ideally, an hour of yoga will burn 175 calories, which is equivalent to slow walking. Due to this, Iyengar yoga should not be done for weight loss, but for flexibility, core and improving heart health, which can further help with other weight loss related exercises and longevity.
Iyengar Yoga Sequence
Iyengar yoga follows 7 sequences. They are standing, sitting, forward bending, back bending, twisting, inversions and supine sequences. Each sequence has a set of poses. These are a few standard poses but one can add more. There are 200+ asanas or poses in Iyengar yoga. But according to the website, bksiyengar, these are the standard poses mentioned. Read on to know more!
Iyengar Yoga Poses
There are different poses that are achieved through props. Let’s check ’em out!
1. Standing Sequence
The standing yogic poses don’t require any props and concentrate on entire body workout. The yoga poses are tadasana samasthithi, tadasana urdhva hastasana, tadasana urdhva baddha hastasana, tadasana baddha namaskar, tadasana paschima namaskar and tadasana gomukhasana.
The first three poses help in increased blood flow. The last three asanas improve the spinal cord and are great for back pain.
2. Sitting Sequence
The sitting asanas have a combination of both with and without props. These asanas are great for abdominal and pelvic muscles. The poses in sitting sequence include urdhva mukha janu sirsasana, upavista konasana, paripurna navasana, baddhakonasana, swastikasana, dandasana and virasana.
3. Forward Bending
For forward bending poses, bolsters and yoga stools are used as props. I think I’m gonna start practicing Iyengar yoga everyday. I struggle to achieve seated forward bend since I’m irregular. So using props is a cool way to get back. The poses include adhomukha virasana, paschimottasana, adomukha paschimottasana, janu sirasana and adomukha swastikasana.
4. Back Bending
The back bending poses concentrate on blood flow to the brain which is important. We never invert our body and yoga has these unique poses to help in improved blood flow to the brain. The poses include viparita dandasana and ustrasana.
Twisting poses are helpful to increase the elasticity of spinal cord and abdominal muscles. Regular practice helps to reduce back pain. The props include bricks, chair and stool.
The poses include parsva virasana, bharadvajasana, bharadvajasana on chair, utthita marichyasana and marichyasana.
The inversion poses include advance poses like shoulder stand, headstand, legs up the wall pose and so on. It might take really long time to achieve these poses with regular yoga. But by using props, one can master the poses and even hold it for a longer time. The inversion poses include salamba sarvangasana, setubandha sarvangasana, halasana, salambha sirsasana and viparita karani.
Supine poses improve flexibility in the lower body. The props used are bricks, blocks and bolsters. The poses include supta baddhakonasana, ujjayi pranayama, supta padangusthasana I, supta virasana, savasana and supta padangusthasana II.
Iyengar Yoga Props
Yoga mats, bricks, blocks, yoga belts, yoga chair, yoga ropes, bolsters are a few of Iyengar yoga props that are used to achieve the poses. Yoga mats, ropes and bolsters are a few props that one can invest in at the beginner level. If you have practiced yoga before then it’s a good idea to invest in these props and practice the advanced poses at home by yourself.
B. K. S Iyengar Yoga for Beginners
While practicing Iyengar yoga, always start it with the help of an instructor or Iyengar yoga teachers. Since it’s a different form of yoga, guidance is important. Investing in props if you practice at home is one of the key factors. Also, try to play around with different types of props for different types of asanas. Iyengar yoga solely focuses on flexibility, hence if you want to lose weight then it’s not a good idea to try this form of yoga. Practicing an hour daily will help mastering the poses.
Iyengar Yoga for Lower Back Pain
Twisting poses are beneficial for back pain in Iyengar yoga. If you’re suffering from lower back pain and looking for a specific asana then bharadvajasana on chair and marichyasana are beneficial.
Iyengar Yoga for Pregnancy
An interesting fact about Iyengar yoga is that it allows new and expecting mothers to practice yoga. The postures help to strengthen spinal cord and relieve lower back pain. It also exercises pelvic floor while removing tension and tiredness. This helps the expectant to prepare for childbirth. You can also check out the book, Iyengar Yoga for Motherhood on Amazon by Geeta S. Iyengar, daughter of B. K. S. Iyengar.
So, this was a complete guide to Iyengar yoga! Are you gonna try to be more flexible or you wanna just lose weight through yoga? Let us know! Tweet us your thoughts @shilpa1ahuja!
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Sahana is a Senior Staff Writer at ShilpaAhuja.com. With an experience in fashion and lifestyle writing, Sahana is responsible for Indian and international fashion week coverage every year, and is developing an expertise in apparel trend forecasting. She also writes about health and fitness, having pursued yoga for 6 years now. She’s not a gym person at all but is all for “running in the park” and is an amateur cyclist. Books and coffee are her other passions. She’s also an amateur photographer. She’s a hardcore Bollywood fan and she loves to cover the nostalgic topics on the same. From fashion trends to famous characters, she can make anyone love Bollywood! Her best article has been 90s Bollywood fashion, a readers’ favorite so far! Prior to her experience with ShilpaAhuja.com, Sahana has written as a freelance author for online magazine, Mashup Corner, and interned at EventsHigh as a content writer. Her blogs on basic fashion, makeup, fitness and city’s food joints that gave her a chance to experiment with her writing. She also has voiced her opinions about feminism and equal rights for men and women at PolkaCafe journals and after quitting her job, she decided to take up writing as her full time career.
Sahana is an engineering graduate and has worked in an MNC, Tesco, for more than a year as an Operations Support. It was her sheer love for fashion that made her quit the monotonous 9 to 5 job to pursue a career in the fashion industry. She’s originally from Bangalore and is currently settled in Chennai (she’s loving the city)! For any queries and discussions, contact her at [email protected] You can also tweet her at https://twitter.com/Sahana_17