Monday, October 13, 2008

Iyengar Yoga - What Is It And How Can You Benefit From it?

Thousands of miles from America, in the small village of Belur Karnataka, India, a poor Brahmin child who suffered from malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever and malnutrition found the key to enlightenment and healing. It is the ultimate miracle of mind-over-matter, as spiritual teachings cured this young lad, who was then quick to pass on his new knowledge. After publishing several books, Belur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar brought his 3,000 year old spiritual practice to the West with Iyengar yoga, a distinct style based upon posturing and contemplating.

Spiritually, Iyengar yoga is based upon Patanjali's eight limbs of raja yoga. The first is Yama, meaning physically and mentally abstaining from the following five things: violence toward others and oneself, from coveting others' belongings, from sexual intercourse, from attachment to possessions and anything that is untrue. The second limb is called Niyama, referring to the five observances: cleanliness of body and mind, satisfaction with what one has, penance and mental control, introspection and surrender to God. Asana refers to posture and position (ideally an erect stance with relaxed muscles) and Pranayama is the directed control of one's breath, which is so vital to successful yoga practice. Pratayahara calls for the quieting of senses connected with the outer world. Only then will Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (oneness with the Supreme Being) naturally follow.

A typical Iyengar yoga lesson will cover up to 200 posture positions and 14 breathing techniques. Certified instructors pace around the room, assisting students with these techniques and sharing various props, including: buckles, straps, benches, chairs, blocks and even sandbags. This form of yoga is often used for physical healing, as the movements are minimal and the props take much of the strain off the body. Beginners also like this style because they receive individualized assistance and with the mastery of these positions, it will help them in other yoga classes.

Iyengar yoga has spread like wildfire in the United States, with hundreds of teachers. Major branches of the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States are located in California, Colorado, Washington, New York, Nevada, Texas, Michigan and Minnesota. To find classes near you, check out as a starting point toward enlightenment and happiness.

The world is a fantastic place filled with diversity and new discoveries at every turn. One of these discoveries for the Western world came in the form of Yoga. This ancient practice was known primarily in Eastern religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism but has since become a very popular form of exercise. It is more than that though. It is a process of centering the mind and body into one fluid machine that is highly aware of itself and surroundings. Yoga can be performed by anyone of any age and is great for those beginning their trek into a healthier lifestyle. If you are ready to begin your trek, click here for more information: Yoga Positions and at Laughing Yoga also at Yoga Positions