NCREASED FLEXIBILITY. You don’t need to be able to touch your toes to do Iyengar Yoga, however the practise is an incredible method for immensely improving flexibility. Iyengar is a slow, gentle yet demanding practise, steadily guiding the practitioner into stretches that are held for approximately one minute. The props used are there to enable students of all levels to hold postures without causing pain or injury.
TONED MUSCLES. In addition to stretching your muscles, the physical demand of holding each pose for a minute will help build strength in both body and mind. Because Iyengar engages the whole body, the attention goes not just to the main muscle, but guides you to think about where and how the muscles are connected to other body parts and to engage those as well. The result is a full-body toning experience and a refinement in your awareness of the deeper workings of your muscles and how your body is connected.
A CALMER MIND. Once you are in the asana or pose, Iyengar Yoga encourages you to focus on the precise alignment of your body, disengaging other thoughts and allowing you to be fully present in the moment. Think of it as a type of meditation and, like meditation, the more you practice it, the calmer your mind will be – on and off the mat.
PAIN RELIEF. Studies have supported the power of Iyengar Yoga in relieving back and neck pain. The focused attention on alignment means that much of the slouching, hunching and muscle weakness that leads to back and neck pain in our everyday lives can be overcome through this practise, which becomes part of the way practitioners move even when away from the mat. Iyengar also helps stretch the muscles of the back and relieve pain-causing tension.
IMPROVED POSTURE. Through its focus on alignment, Iyengar Yoga helps strengthen the muscles of the body responsible for posture, like the legs, back and core – the former two of which are most commonly neglected. With minor adjustments to improve alignment, even small muscles that are often ignored, become stronger. The result is that you’ll find yourself sitting and standing straighter, which will give you more energy, less pain, and increased confidence.
PROTECTION FROM DISEASE. Disease often occurs when the body’s normal processes don’t function the way they should. Iyengar Yoga helps improve the overall functioning of the body, from the circulatory and lymph systems, to the nervous system and digestion. When the body’s systems are working at their optimal capacity, organs are nourished, toxins are eliminated and the risk of some diseases decreases.
IMPROVED BREATHING. While you hold your asana and consider your alignment, Iyengar also instructs you to focus on the breath. Whether you realise it or not, many of us hold our breath during times of stress. The more you practice breathing through Iyengar Yoga, the less you’ll end up holding your breath unconsciously, encouraging a constant flow of oxygen to the brain, with myriad health benefits.