‘Yoga is a light, which once lit will never dim. The better you practice, the brighter the flame.’
Yoga is one of the oldest and most rewarding forms of exercise and offers tremendous benefits. There is no competition in the practice of yoga and no pressure to push the body beyond its own limitations and capabilities.
The word ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit root yuj and means ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’, joining together the mental (mind), physical (body) and spiritual (soul).
Yoga is not tied to any religion. It is appropriate for all people in all locations. It is concerned with the betterment of the life of each human being. No matter how out-of-shape, how unfit or stiff, tense or old you may feel, you can become looser, more relaxed and generate more energy than you ever thought possible through the practice of yoga.
Yoga comes out of an oral tradition in which the teaching was transmitted directly from teacher to student. The Indian sage, Patanjali has been credited with the collation of this oral tradition into his classical written work, the Yoga Sutra, a 2000 year old treatise on yogic philosophy.
All yoga practised today is based on this philosophical guidebook, made up of 196 concise statements for dealing with the challenges of being human.
BKS Iyengar developed a yoga system that has become known as Iyengar Yoga. He is internationally recognised as an acclaimed yoga master, and was selected in 2004 by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. His book, ‘Light on Yoga’, has been translated into at least 18 languages and is regarded as the bible of yoga.
BKS Iyengar was born with a weak constitution and suffered from ill health until his early teens. In 1934 at the age of 16, BKS Iyengar was invited to visit his sister in Mysore. Whilst there he was encouraged by his brother-in-law (Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya) to remain with them longer than intended and under his guidance started working on yoga to improve his health. He approached adulthood and so began his training at his brother in-law’s yoga school. This turn of events became the major defining point in BKS Iyengar’s life and a starting point for years of steady work and growth. He dedicated himself 100% to exploring and refining the art and science of yoga through his first-hand experience of the benefits. BKS Iyengar has imparted his knowledge by writing many books e.g. ‘Light on Yoga’, Light on Pranayama’, Light on the Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali’, ‘The Tree of Yoga’ and many more.
‘Yoga is the golden key that unlocks the door to peace, tranquility and joy’
There are four unique aspects of the lyengar system by which it can be distinguished from other systems of yoga.
- The first is the precision of alignment in the asana practice; correct body alignment not only minimises the possibility of injuries, but also ensures steady development of balance, coordination and improvement of posture.
- The second aspect is the sequencing. Sequencing helps you obtain greater penetration and understanding.
- The third aspect of lyengar yoga is the timing. Poses are held longer to allow for attention to precise alignment and for the benefits of the asana to penetrate. In addition, holding poses builds core strength and endurance.
- The fourth aspect is the use of equipment/props. BKS Iyengar is perhaps best known for his innovative use of very simple aids, including wooden blocks, foams, belts, chairs, blankets and bolsters, which allow everyone to benefit no matter their age or physical disabilities in a safe and effective manner.
These four aspects of the lyengar system are all integrated and develop strength and endurance, improve posture and concentration in addition to increasing flexibility and quietening the mind to promote well-being.