Iyengar yoga is one of the more traditional forms of yoga that have tremendous potential to heal the physical and emotional body. This New Year, taking up the practice of this form of yoga as a holistic means of achieving a greater state of health may prove to be one of the best things you can do for your body. The following are one of the myriad benefits you can expect to see within 6 months of disciplined practice with a trained Iyengar yoga specialist.
Iyengar yoga is practised slowly and gently to guide the practitioner into stretches that have to be held for around a minute. Props are sometimes used at both beginner and advanced stages to make it easy, painless and safer to hold poses.
Iyengar yoga engages the entire body. Along with stretching your muscles, the physical effort required to hold each pose helps build strength and the requirement of having to mentally connect with the muscles you are stretching and the other parts they are connected to has the fantastic result of toning your entire body.
On commencing an asana (or pose), the practitioner is expected to focus on the execution of the pose and the muscle required to do so. Doing so results in one ignoring the mindless chatter most of us experience in our heads and being truly present in the moment. This is a form of meditation that calms and soothes the mind depending on how often it is practised, both on the yoga mat and off it!
Research reveals promise in using this form of yoga to treat back and neck pain. By concentrating on alignment when practising various asanas, a lot of the hunching, slouching and straining that leads to issues with the back and neck are corrected and eventually, overcome resulting in greater flexibility sans pain and the added benefit of improved posture!
A critical element of performing an asana correctly is focusing on one’s breathing. Most of us tend to hold our breath when we are actively concentrating. Iyengar yoga encourages the opposite as a constant flow of oxygen to the brain is more important when we are focusing than ever! As the above demonstrates, Iyengar yoga is more than just another school of yoga. It is a new way of functioning and that is exactly what many of us may need in the New Year to break out of unhealthy cycles and become the healthiest, fittest versions of ourselves this year.