Iyengar Yoga: Aligning Mind, Body, and Soul
How Iyengar Yoga Has Shown Me What Yoga is Really Here to Teach
When I first began practicing yoga on my own, I had no idea that my desire to hold my poses for longer periods of time, to really feel each pose in its entirety and find perfect alignment within them was in line with one of yoga’s finest master teachers. Iyengar Yoga showed me the way.
I knew little of the different types of yoga. And I certainly had no idea there was a beloved guruji by the name of B.K.S. Iyengar who was not only teaching that which I desired, but was also responsible for making yoga as popular as it had recently become.
“B.K.S. Iyengar did make yoga seem attainable to everyone no matter what challenges they faced”
B.K.S. Iyengar is the reason we all get to experience yoga the way we do today. Because of his pioneer efforts to bring yoga to the West, believing yoga should be accessible to everyone, it has become decidedly so.
Where a few decades ago you would have been colored a little crazy to be found in a yoga studio (if you could even find one), you’re now one of the crazy ones if you aren’t practicing yoga.
While I really don’t think his intention was for yoga to turn into what it is today, B.K.S. Iyengar did make yoga seem attainable to everyone no matter what challenges they faced. He saw no limitations and inevitably passed this vision on to the masses.
Aligning Mind, Body, and Soul
One of the most influential things brought in this vision was found in the attention he placed upon finding the perfect alignment in each asana performed. Little did I know that my aspirations to stay in Headstand longer than most or standing firm in Warrior II for minutes on end were loosely based on the foundation of Iyengar Yoga. I had no clue that there was an Indian master whose mission was to spread the importance of precise placement of the body and focus of mind in each pose.
This was years ago and in the time between then and now I have learned so much more than I initially knew when I started out on this journey. Yoga isn’t the multi-billion dollar industry it’s become. It’s not this trend that everyone and their mother have embraced.
Yoga is a science. One of mind, body, and soul aligned perfectly together that ultimately brings us to true alignment with ourselves. And Iyengar Yoga allows us to embrace this science like we’ll never experience in the popular flow-style classes we’re all used to taking.
I Love Yoga for Many Reasons…
I love Iyengar Yoga for many reasons, but perhaps mostly because it brings me closer to the roots of this ancient discipline. When engaged in Iyengar practice, I’m far removed from what yoga’s “become.” Instead I feel I become a part of what yoga truly is.
I didn’t realize when longing to hold these poses for longer periods of time that I subconsciously desired what yoga is really here to teach. Like many people that practice, I had no idea that the yoga I thought I knew was much different than what yoga really is. I only knew it made me feel good. I knew nothing of the liberation it contained.
It wasn’t until I discovered that Iyengar Yoga was the discipline I had originally embraced subconsciously that I began to seek deeper knowledge of what this type of yoga was really all about. And while I knew yoga was somehow really, really good for me, it wasn’t until I began to truly understand Iyengar Yoga that I began to grasp why.
Embracing the Quiet of the Mind…
In Iyengar Yoga, deep emphasis is placed upon holding postures for a longer period of time. We use props like blocks and blankets and straps during this time, and it is here that precise alignment in each pose is found. And when we take the time to embrace proper alignment, we also find we must embrace the quiet of the mind.
If we’re to find the perfect alignment, we must bring breath and posture together. It’s here we work together with the beauty of body combined with breath. And in an Iyengar class, this happens much more so than I think in any typical Vinyasa flow we tend to experience.
And while I do love a good Vinyasa flow, it’s Iyengar that continues to make me feel that much more connected to my practice. That whole mind, body, and soul thing so synonymous with yoga makes so much more sense now that I can appreciate Iyengar Yoga and the lessons it’s here to teach.
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