Iyengar yoga makes you become aware of your body, inside and out.
Starting with your posture – Learning how to stand, the first standing pose is Tadasana, the mountain pose, to stand evenly on 2 feet, spine is naturally long, correcting round drooping shoulders.
Iyengar yoga strengthens and tones the muscles, and because we work with such precision and alignment it helps strong sporty bodies, injuries, illnesses and bad habits of “life”.
There are different poses that help internally ie liver, heart, digestive system, soothing organs, stimulating organs, helping with pregnancy and the menstrual cycle. There are certain poses you must not do when you are menstruating or pregnant and in our classes women are encouraged to practice according to their cycle.
Here is an example of some poses and their benefits…
Standing poses tone the leg muscles, remove stiffness, correct any minor deformity in the legs and help them to develop evenly, strengthening the legs will relieve back aches. These poses also remove stiffness in the shoulders, corrects the alignment of the shoulders.
Adho Mukha Svanasana – Dog pose is practiced at the beginning of most classes as it is invigorating. It can be taken as a dynamic asana that strengthens the arms and legs, or with support to calms the brain and gently stimulates the nervous system.
Twisting standing poses tone the leg muscles, the spine and muscles of the back are also made to function properly as the poses increase the blood supply round the lower part of the spinal region. We work to expand the chest & the breath improves, shoulder tension is relieved, they relieve back pain, help aid digestive issues, invigorate the abdominal organs and strengthen the hip muscles.
Balance standing poses are important for the health of the knees, they strengthen the leg muscles and give the practitioner nervine strength, steadiness and poise.
Supine poses, lying over a bolster or block to open the chest is a calming and invigorating practice. With various leg positions, crossed legs or Baddha Konasana, these poses help to improve digestion, relieves gastric problems, relieves pain in the sacral and lumbar regions.
Abdominal poses strengthen and tone the abdominal muscles and organs.
Forward bending poses stretch the whole of the back and back of the legs, create flexibility in the knees & hip joints, tone the liver and spleen helping digestion, tone and activate the kidneys. The action of forward bends is said to fan the digestive fire but quieten and cool the brain.
Twists are important to maintain flexibility of the spine and muscles of the back, they can relieve pain in the neck, shoulders and back. The twisting action wrings out stagnation of the abdominal organs.
Backbends help to correct posture, increases lung capacity, improves blood circulation, tones the muscles of the back and the spine, it also removes stiffness in the back and shoulders. Backbends open the whole front body and that opening lifts the spirit of the practitioner, they are invaluable for people who suffer from depression.
Inversions: Sirsasana – Headstand – ‘The Father of all asana’. The regular practice of headstand builds up the character of the person, developing positive attributes of concentration, courage and strength.
Sarvangasana – shoulder stand – ‘The Mother of all asana’ nourishes the whole human system. Relieves insomnia, soothes the nerves and improves the functioning of the thyroid gland.
Reference: Light on Yoga BKS Iyengar