Iyengar yoga uses a variety of props such as bricks, blocks, belts, blankets and ropes to facilitate a correct understanding of each asana. This does not dilute yoga asanas but rather teaches the student to understand the correct actions, which might not otherwise be accessible to them. BKS Iyengar developed this methodology from his own practice of Yoga as well as from studying ancient manuscripts and art depicting yogis performing asanas.
Iyengar yoga teachers undergo rigorous training, assessments and continued development in order to earn and maintain different levels of certification. The key pillars of Iyengar yoga are as follows:
- Standing postures to bring strength and stability to the body.
- Forward bending to quieten and calm the nervous system.
- Lateral twists to bring strength and flexibility to the back muscles, abdomen and spine.
- Inversions to improve hormonal balance and organically strengthen the body.
- Backbends to extend and improve the flexibility of the spine.
- Relaxation to cool and calm the body, mind and breath.
Generally, a monthly cycle of these groups of postures is observed. For example, the first week of the month will involve standing posture, the second week forward bends and twists, the third week backbends and the fourth week relaxation and pranayama.
Unless specified, the studio or class will generally provide all the props and equipment that is needed for the class - the student only need show up!
It is recommended that heavy meals be consumed four hours prior to a class and light meals a minimum of three hours. Warm drinks and water can be consumed half an hour before a class but please do not bring water bottles into class - and ideally wait ten to fifteen minutes after class before consuming water or drinks.