What is Iyengar Yoga?

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The Iyengar approach to yoga is firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga expounded by Patanjali in his classic treatise, The Yoga Sutras, written over 2,500 years go. It is a disciplined and deeply research system developed over 75 years by Yogacharya BKS Iyengar who still practices daily – exploring, studying, writing and teaching about yoga.

Yoga means union. The union of the individual soul with the Universal Spirit is yoga. But this is too abstract a notion to be easily understood, so for our level of understanding I say that yoga is the union of body with the mind and of mind with the soul”. – BKS Iyengar, Tree of Yoga.

What is unique about Iyengar Yoga is that it is characterized in the practice of asana and pranayama with the innovative approach emphasizing precision and alignment, planned sequencing, timing and the use of props. This approach has allowed people of varying ages, levels of health and fitness to enjoy the benefits which a sustained practice can bring – the ability to face the physical, mental and emotional challenges of contemporary life with strength, vitality, mobility, thoughtfulness and equanimity.

The term “Iyengar Yoga” was coined by students of Mr. Iyengar to distinguish Guruji’s approach from other styles of yoga. He, however, has described his yoga as “Patanjali Yoga” and says:

“I have no right to brand my practices or teachings as Iyengar Yoga. My pupils, who follow me, call it Iyengar Yoga. The only thing I am doing is to bring out the in-depth, the hidden qualities of Yoga to the awareness of you all. What I do is pure, authentic traditional Yoga. It is wrong to differentiate traditional yoga Iyengar Yoga, as it is also not fair to brand Yoga, as Raja-yoga, Hatha-yoga, Laya-yoga, Kundalini-yoga, Taraka-yoga and so forth. There is no distinction between one Yoga and another. Yoga, like God is one.”

Guruji, BKS Iyengar has written many books and articles on yoga. A good place to start is with the introduction to Light on Yoga (considered a modern classic about yoga) first published in 1966. See Library and Resources.

* Yoga: to unite / Sutra: aphorism or thread / Patanjali: Indian sage