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 😉