Iyengar Yoga

On Saturday morning, I woke up early. I puttered around for a while until I thought to check the schedule for my local yoga studio (I have a few classes to use up before we move next week). I found one called “Iyengar-Based” that started at 8am Saturday morning. I had just enough time to dress and drive over to take Tom Abrehamson‘s class.

If you’ve never heard of Iyengar yoga, let me explain. Iyengar is a style of yoga that focuses on correct alignment. Almost everyone (even us “flexy” people) will use blocks, straps, or bolsters. Okay, I didn’t, but I’m a pretzel. The use of these tools can help beginners experience the benefits of deeper/difficult poses, but they can also be helpful for advanced students that are just tired, sick, sore, or injured and wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience the full expression of a pose.

Iyengar yoga helps build strength, yes – but from what I experienced it is also a a very powerful tool to improve concentration and meditation. This type of class (for me) seems to have the most potential for the mind-body-spirit unification that yogis strive for.

Stress relief is a benefit that comes with all yoga practices, and Iyengar absolutely brings that release. Now that cold-season is upon us it’s imperative that we reduce stress and strengthen our immune systems. Iyengar (I think) focuses on standing poses to form a solid base both physically and mentally.

The class itself was very active and vocal. Tom came around and fixed our postures and gave very helpful instructions for finding the best alignment. The class will involve lots of corrections at first, but as you take more classes, the right alignment will start to come naturally. This style of yoga is great for me in particular because I’m a lot more bendy than most people. Most teachers think that I’m at my edge when really… I’m just not. Tom caught on to that and helped me find my edge. I loved it.

Another cool fact about Iyengar is that there are specific programs for healing various illnesses (back problems, high blood pressure, immune weaknesses, insomnia, and more). And it doesn’t stop with the physical – it’s also used to treat depression, anxiety, and anger. I suppose you could say this of many styles of yoga, but out of all the different yoga styles that I’ve practiced, Iyengar is the one that focuses the most on that mind-body-spirit connection.

What’s your favorite style of yoga? Why? If you don’t do yoga, is there something you do to strengthen your body and mind at the same time?

I don’t know if I could pick a favorite style. I love vinyasa and power yoga, but only very specific classes (Sadie Nardini is my favorite instructor). I love Julianne Rice’s “Hatha Yoga” at my studio. And now I love Tom Abrehamson’s “Iyengar-Based”. I think the instructor is so important… which is why I do most of my yoga on my own ;)

11 Comments on Iyengar Yoga

  1. Tina
    2 November, 2009 at 2:59 pm (5 years ago)

    I really NEED to start doing yoga.. .I’ve tried doing it on my own, but I’m afraid I get every move wrong :(

    Thing is it’s so darn expensive here (like 20 euros a lesson!)

    But if I ever get the chance, I’ll try this. It sounds good :)

  2. Susan
    2 November, 2009 at 3:21 pm (5 years ago)

    I LOVE Iyengar yoga!!! It holds a special place in my heart because it’s the style that finally got me into yoga. I’d tried and didn’t care for several yoga classes until going to the Iyengar class taught at my campus gym. I really took to the static poses that stretched my body to its limits. As a newbie, I also appreciated that the Iyengar instructor came right up and corrected me. I moved into Yin yoga after that and am now just getting into Hatha. No Bikram though. I want my yoga to be peaceful and relaxing, not forced and sweaty.

  3. VeggieGirl
    2 November, 2009 at 3:24 pm (5 years ago)

    VERY intriguing!!

    My favorite style = hatha vinyasa

  4. Jil
    2 November, 2009 at 3:56 pm (5 years ago)

    wow, that sounds awesome. i’ve wanted to start yoga for a while, as I am SOO tight, and I have never been particularly bendy. plus, i think my mind would benefit greatly from it.

  5. coco
    2 November, 2009 at 4:51 pm (5 years ago)

    my favorite is vinyasa but I’d do whatever a good instructor teaches! :)
    I can’t find any other workout that gives a good strength training and mind relaxing. I’d love to find an alternative to yoga.

  6. Bekah
    2 November, 2009 at 5:12 pm (5 years ago)

    i first got into yoga during a family vaca in jamaica. and what yoga was it? iyengar! it was basically the best week of my life.. but nowadays i’m doing vinyasa and power thanks to so many podcasts and am going to try and hatha class this week actually. we’ll see how it goes!

  7. Hil
    2 November, 2009 at 5:51 pm (5 years ago)

    I’ve never taken a formal Iyengar class, but my teacher is trained in Iyengar and draws on that a lot. I’m pretty flexy, too, but I’m learning that even if I’m perfectly capable of doing a pose without props, I sometimes find that using a prop helps me to get deeper into the pose because it keeps my body so perfectly aligned. I don’t have a single favorite style, so I like that my teacher combines vinyasa, Iyengar, kundalini, restorative, and even the occasional bit of pilates core work.

  8. Anne
    2 November, 2009 at 8:32 pm (5 years ago)

    Hi Maggie, I’m delurking! I’m an avid Iyengar yoga practitioner and I HIGHLY recommend the Iyengar Yoga Institute in NYC when you move. There are many great teachers- my favorites are Lara and Hugh. Yeah!

  9. clare
    2 November, 2009 at 9:51 pm (5 years ago)

    great post maggie! ive never taken iyengar style. does iyengar style work with the breath? i like the idea of building strength, and i love my power yoga. i love all things flow, and lately am addicted to hot vinyasa yoga.

    im excited for your november renewal, mostly your goals of kindness and credit to yourself.

  10. Stacy
    2 November, 2009 at 11:53 pm (5 years ago)

    Iyengar is absolutely the only yoga for me! My own mother is a certified Iyengar instructor and she teaches out of her own studio right inside our house. :) I am a total Iyengar convert as of four years ago, although I’ve fallen off the bandwagon recently because of unemployment and moving…. But I am going to get back into it very very soon and your entry has inspired me!

  11. Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter)
    3 November, 2009 at 9:17 am (5 years ago)

    I love Sadie too. So jealous that you are going to be in NYC with here soon. Can’t wait to visit. :)

    My practice is all over the place. Some days, I love a challenging flow class, but other days, I just need a little Yin action in my life.