There is an article on the Yoga Journal website that gives a good overview of many of the different styles of yoga you may have heard of. Iyengar yoga is named after BKS Iyengar who originated many of the the teaching methods used.
I am trained as an Iyengar yoga teacher. However I no longer pay to use their branding so I may not call myself an ‘Iyengar’ yoga teacher although if you attend my classes you wouldn’t know the difference from when I paid for the branding and after I stopped.
Below is a description of Iyengar yoga to give you a flavour of how it is practiced and what you might find in an Iyengar-style class. This is taken from the excellent Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States website, and for authoritative information on all aspects of Iyengar Yoga it’s well worth a look.
Iyengar Yoga, the world’s most widely-practiced form of Yoga, emphasizes correct alignment of all parts of the body within each yoga asana (posture). This precision of approach builds strength and stamina, balance and flexibility, and a new sense of well-being. Achieving meditation in action, the practitioner learns to exist fully and vibrantly in the present moment.
Yoga is for everyone. No one is too old or too stiff, too fat or thin or tired. A Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher can guide students of all ages and physical conditions to an experience of yoga, which is safe, accessible and rewarding.
Certified Iyengar Yoga instructors are held to an unusually rigorous standard. Only after years of training and evaluation do they become certified. Iyengar Yoga teachers modify the classic asanas (yoga postures) for individual students with the use of props — such as blocks, blankets and belts. Props allow for a deeper penetration into the posture, as well as a longer stay.
Iyengar Yoga teachers use their deep-seated knowledge of the asanas to individualize corrections for each student. Students know they are observed and, if necessary, adjusted. Clear demonstrations of the posture. A well-developed eye. Specific teaching points which awaken the body’s intelligence — these are the marks of an Iyengar Yoga teacher.
Students of Iyengar Yoga begin with elementary postures, with an emphasis on the standing asanas (postures). In time, other postures are added, including forward bends and back bends, twists, inversions and restorative poses. Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Balance) is introduced as soon as students are ready because of its many therapeutic benefits. Each class ends with Savasana, corpse pose or deep relaxation. Students learn to rest in a profound way, completely releasing the body while drawing the mind towards the peace within.
As the student progresses, Pranayama (the control of the breath) is introduced.Teachers devise sequences of poses, which build skill and understanding, from posture to posture, and from class to class. Students are encouraged to develop their own home practice; without one, the study of yoga is incomplete.
Below are links to other yoga sites that I respect and / or find useful. Obviously, it’s not an exhaustive list but these are just good places, organisations, or people that I have personal experience of. So, in no particular order:
The UK umbrella association and central source of information about Iyengar Yoga all over the UK.
Iyengar Yoga Institute Maida Vale – a beautiful yoga studio in London dedicated to Iyengar Yoga that I try to visit whenever I am in London. If only all classes could be in places like this!
Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States – the US umbrella body and a great source of general information about Iyengar Yoga, including scientific research on Iyengar Yoga
Sheffield and District Iyengar Yoga Association – a very friendly association that holds excellent workshops in their dedicated studio.
The website of an American magazine which I find a very useful and interesting source of information. It is not exclusively about Iyengar Yoga but does have many US based Iyengar teachers who contribute.