The roots of Iyengar Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga lead back to the legendary teacher, Stri T. Krishnamacharya, brother-in-law and guru to B.K.S. Iyengar and K. Pattabhi Jois.
Iyengar yoga is named after the living yogi, B.K.S. Iyengar. Iyengar began life with many challenges yet his dedicated, driven, and intelligent exploration of yoga allowed him to transcend those difficulties. At the age of fourteen and in ill health, Iyengar was sent to learn yoga from his brother-in-law, Sri T. Krishnamacharya. Through steady practice under his demanding teacher, Iyengar’s health improved. After just three years of study he was sent to teach in Pune, India. There he began an intense, subjective study of yoga and teaching. Through experimentation he honed his skills as both practitioner and teacher.
Iyengar yoga follows the eight-fold path of Patanjali’s Astanga Yoga. In his Yoga Sutras Patanjali describes the eight branches that make up the tree that is yoga: ethical discipline, self-discipline, physical firmness and ease, breath awareness, an inner awareness, concentration, a spreading of awareness, and a connection to all things. Iyengar recognized that one could understand each of these limbs more fully through the practice of yoga postures.
Iyengar Yoga is methodical, progressive, and appropriate for all. One need not be flexible or “fit” to come to a level I class. Iyengar teachers are trained to adapt postures to make them accessible, interesting, and challenging for those with different levels of skill and ability, challenge and limitation.
Iyengar Yoga is ever-evolving. In Pune, India the Iyengar family continues to teach in fresh and exciting ways. Theories are tested and different approaches to teaching are then disseminated throughout the Iyengar community.
Those who are new to yoga or new to the Iyengar method should begin with Level I classes. In Level I classes standing poses are emphasized in order to develop strength, learn actions to create a sense of direction within the postures, hone one’s balance, and cultivate a connection between our limbs and trunk. Inversions are introduced, as are seated forward bends, twists, and rudimentary back-bends. In Level II classes, head stand is taught along with deeper backbends, and level I poses are refined with more nuanced instructions. Students are encouraged to talk with the teacher before coming to a Level II class for the first time.