What differentiates the Iyengar method from other schools of yoga is the strict and methodical progression in the study of the Eight Limbs of Yoga (Asthanga Yoga) as enumerated by the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra. In the beginning the emphasis is on the practice of asanas (postures). Their therapeutic effect is universally acknowledged. Asanas have a very deep cleansing power. They improve the body’s resistance to disease and its ability to heal itself. On a more subtle level they have the ability to transform positively the mental attitude of the practitioner. In his teachings BKS Iyengar emphasises the importance of correct asana practice. Alignment, sequencing and timing is essential if we want to extract the nectar from each asana. In order to make yoga accessible to all, regardless of the practitioner's physical or mental condition, BKS Iyengar has introduced the use of props: ropes, blocks, bolsters, belts etc. The props provide support and allow for accuracy in the execution of asanas so that we may derive full benefit from them.
In the Iyengar method pranayama practice is introduced gradually when a certain level of proficiency in asanas is attained. This is only a safety measure to ensure that the practitioner is ready to receive the essence of the breath, the very life force, prana. If the practice of asanas is done correctly the breath has already undergone a training, it becomes naturally deeper and smoother. Asana practice prepares for pranayama by strengthening the body and nervous system, taming the ego, developing awareness and training the practitioner to be a silent and watchful observer, essential pre-requisites for a correct pranayama practice.
The Iyengar method has the body, the grossest manifestation of our being, as a starting point. The body is also the temple of the soul and as such it has to be cultured and purified through regular and uninterrupted practice of asana and pranayama. The cleansing process is essential if we want to proceed further in the path of yoga and move from the gross to the subtle. Once the asana and pranayama practices have been perfected then the individual journey towards the final destination begins.
To the Great Master BKS Iyengar goes the credit to have made yoga accessible to all well beyond India’s borders. His method is the most widely practiced all over the world. He has devoted his entire life to spreading this noble art whose aim is the emancipation of men to the highest level of spirituality. Guruji must surely have been inspired by the words of his guru Yogacharya Shri T. Krishnamacharya and generously shared the gift of yoga with us.
ॐ श्री गुरवे नमः