An Overview on Yoga :
“Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like you are constantly trying to fit broken pieces together. Yoga allows you to find an inner peace that is not ruffled and riled by the endless stresses and struggles of life.”
B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life
Yoga is a traditional Indian discipline of great value for people today. As the ancient sages discovered, Yoga is a culture for the whole person through which one can gain and maintain a healthier body and mind.
Yoga pupils learn through a carefully graded and systematic programme of asana (posture) & Pranayama (breath control). Yoga practice both relaxes and energizes. It brings vitality, flexibility, strength, concentration, self-confidence and mental calm. Practising Yoga helps you overcome stresses and strains, aches and pains and promotes a firm foundation of health and well being.
“Meditation is oneness, when there is no longer time, sex, or country. The moment when, after you have concentrated on doing a pose (or anything else) perfectly, you hold it and then forget everything, not because you want to but because you are concentrated:Is meditation.”
B.K.S. Iyengar, Sparks of Divinity: The Teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar from 1959 to 1975
Yoga is suitable for all types of people and all levels of fitness.
The Benefits of Yoga :
The stress of modern life makes us neglect our bodies leading to strains pain and illness. Yoga provides a way to restore the balance of vital energies and to reintegrate the body with the mind. This helps us to cultivate a harmonious way of living. With experience of better health we find that peace and spiritual contentment are within our reach today.
The practice of Yoga Asanas and Pranayamas has a very beneficial effect on the whole body. The joints and muscles are all toned and strengthened. The circulation, digestion and breathing systems are stimulated, which improves their functions and assists the whole body to eliminate toxins. Energy levels are increased and the ability of the immune system to resist illness improves.
Yoga Asanas are not simply gymnastic exercises. When properly performed they are a physical, physiological and psychological process.
The physiological effects of the stretches, extending, flexing and twisting movements can actually regulate hormone production. Asanas will stimulate a sluggish lymphatic system or pacify over active glands, thus helping to relieve many ailments and prevent suffering.
Yoga is a valuable tool for us to alleviate the strain of conflicting impulses in daily life. Feelings of frustration and alienation can escalate into mental illnesses like anxiety and depression unless we learn how to keep them in check. As our physical well being grows we become calmer and mentally stronger which brings a balance to the mind and a sense of freedom of spirit.
During yoga practice we develop the skills of mental focus and clarity, which mature naturally into deeper awareness and meditation.
The spiritual aim of yoga is Self-realization, a perfect integration of the physical body and the consciousness of the mind. This culminates in the merging of the individual self with the universal.
Yoga is a holistic approach to good health, which encompasses mind, body and spirit. As we follow a clear path we feel less like a victim of circumstance and become more optimistic. Negative feelings of doubt, fear and selfishness are naturally replaced by positive attitudes such as courage, faith and compassion.
What distinguishes Iyengar Yoga from other styles of yoga:
In summary, the Iyengar method of Yoga may be said to define itself as different from other styles of Yoga by 3 key elements, namely technique, sequence and timing:
Technique means that in practice one learns ever finer adjustments in the alignment of how one performs one’s asana and pranayama.
Sequence refers to the sequences in which asana and pranayama are practiced. For example, by varying which postures are practiced after which, the mental and emotional effects of the practice can be intensified in a manner not otherwise possible in order to bring about changes to the whole being including ones spiritual evolution.
Timing refers to the length of time spent in postures or pranayama. Postures cannot be done swiftly or without awareness. It takes time to move into a posture and become stable. When this has been achieved then one remains stably for some time to intensify the depth of the posture and so extract its benefit. Otherwise the potential effects and benefits remain small compared to what is possible.
So one can begin to see how Iyengar yoga cultivates all 8 disciplines of yoga and is far from merely “gymnastics and deep breathing.” With practice and understanding, one realises that Asana (posture) is as different from stretching or gymnastics just as Pranayama (Breath control) is different from merely deep breathing and meditation is different from self-induced trance.
The prolonged practice of asana and pranayama affects the individual on an organic (physiological), mental and spiritually level as well as just physically.
How Iyengar Teachers are Trained :
The Iyengar certification process is highly rigorous, assuring you of a teacher who practices and is well trained in the art, science, and philosophy of yoga. Prospective teachers confirm their dedication through years of studying yoga. Teacher training includes the study of anatomy, physiology, philosophy, first aid and practical teaching methods.
The process of teacher training and evaluation is repeated with higher standards and different material at various levels of certification, preparing teachers to teach at increasing levels of competency. Still higher levels of certification are granted directly by B.K.S. Iyengar.