Iyengar Yoga: What is it and how to do it?


yengar Yoga is a style of yoga that was developed by the renowned yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar. It is a form of Hatha yoga that focuses on precision, alignment, and the use of props. Iyengar Yoga places great emphasis on correct body alignment and the performance of asanas (yoga postures) with utmost attention to detail. This style of yoga is known for its therapeutic benefits and is accessible to people of all ages and physical abilities.

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Practicing Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga classes are typically structured and sequenced in a way that allows students to progressively deepen their practice.

Who was B.K.S. Iyengar?

B.K.S. Iyengar was a highly influential yoga teacher and the founder of Iyengar Yoga. He introduced props such as blocks, straps, and blankets to assist practitioners in achieving proper alignment and avoiding strain. Iyengar’s teachings have had a profound impact on the way yoga is approached, with an emphasis on attention to detail, adaptability, and the integration of mind, body, and spirit. Iyengar Yoga continues to be practiced and celebrated by millions of people worldwide to this day, carrying forward the legacy of its visionary founder.

How does Iyengar begin?

The practice often begins with gentle warm-up exercises, followed by standing poses, seated poses, inversions, backbends, and finally, relaxation poses. Each asana is held for a longer duration compared to other yoga styles, which helps to develop strength, flexibility, and stability.

Use of props

One of the distinguishing features of Iyengar Yoga is the use of props. Props such as yoga blocks, straps, blankets, and chairs are used to support the body in various postures, making them accessible to beginners and those with physical limitations. Props assist in achieving proper alignment, enabling practitioners to experience the benefits of the poses more fully.

In Iyengar Yoga, the emphasis is not only on the external alignment of the body but also on the internal alignment, including the breath, mind, and intelligence. Practitioners are encouraged to cultivate awareness and concentration throughout their practice, bringing a meditative quality to each asana.

Benefits of Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga offers numerous benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. Here are some of the key advantages of practicing this style of yoga:

  1. Improved alignment: Iyengar Yoga helps to align the body correctly, improving posture and reducing the risk of injuries. Through precise alignment, practitioners can find balance and stability in the poses.
  2. Increased strength and flexibility: Regular practice of Iyengar Yoga can enhance muscular strength, improve flexibility, and increase overall body awareness. The holding of poses for longer durations builds strength, while the use of props allows for gradual progress.
  3. Therapeutic effects: Iyengar Yoga is often used therapeutically to address specific health concerns. It can help with back pain, joint stiffness, stress reduction, and overall well-being. Props are particularly useful in adapting the poses to accommodate injuries or physical limitations.
  4. Mind-body connection: The practice of Iyengar Yoga encourages mindfulness and concentration. By bringing awareness to the body, breath, and mind, practitioners develop a deeper connection between these aspects of themselves, fostering overall mental and emotional well-being.

Starting Iyengar Yoga as a Beginner

If you’re new to Iyengar Yoga and would like to begin your practice, here are some steps to get started:

1. Find a qualified instructor

Look for a certified Iyengar Yoga instructor in your area who can guide you through the practice. An experienced teacher can provide proper guidance, ensure correct alignment, and offer modifications based on your individual needs.

2. Begin with a beginner's class

Enroll in a beginner’s class or an introductory workshop specifically designed for newcomers. These classes focus on the foundational aspects of Iyengar Yoga, teaching basic poses and introducing the use of props.

3. Gather the necessary props

As a beginner, you may need a few basic props to support your practice. These can include yoga blocks, straps, and a blanket. Your instructor can guide you on what props you may need and how to use them effectively.

4. Start with simple poses

Begin with simple standing poses like Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), and Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I). As you gain strength and confidence, gradually progress to more challenging poses.

5. Practice regularly

Consistency is key in yoga. Aim to practice Iyengar Yoga regularly, even if it’s just a few minutes each day. Regular practice will help you build strength, flexibility, and familiarity with the poses.

6. Listen to your body

While it’s important to challenge yourself, it’s equally crucial to listen to your body’s limitations. Avoid pushing yourself too hard and respect any physical boundaries. With time, your body will become more open and responsive to the practice.

7. Be patient and persistent

Yoga is a journey, and progress takes time. Be patient with yourself and embrace the process. With regular practice, you will gradually witness improvements in your physical abilities, mental clarity, and overall well-being.

What books did Iyengar write?​

Iyengar wrote many books in his lifetime. These books offer more light and teachings on the art of yoga practice.

Light on Yoga

This yoga book is the definitive guide to the philosophy and practice of yoga. This book has become the modern yoga “bible.” It has instructions and illustrations of the poses setting the standard for books about yoga. It not only goes into depth about yoga poses, but it also does so too for breathing techniques.

The Path to Holistic Health: The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide

This book has picture guides to break down yoga poses, yoga with props, and routines based on ailments. The book also includes aIn this book, Iyengar explores the yogic goal of merging the different parts of self (emotions, body, mind, and soul). It also goes in-depth on how yoga postures and techniques play a role in your external and internal wholeness. In this book, you will find the first instance of Iyengar using his life stories, humor, and examples from modern culture to get his points across. chapter celebrating B.K.S. Iyengar’s life’s work. The book has over 60 step-by-step sequences of asanas, pranayamas, and chakras supervised by B.K.S Iyengar himself. These images contain a 360-degree image showing all sides of the postures.

Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom

In this book, Iyengar explores the yogic goal of merging the different parts of self (emotions, body, mind, and soul). It also goes in-depth on how yoga postures and techniques play a role in your external and internal wholeness. In this book, you will find the first instance of Iyengar using his life stories, humor, and examples from modern culture to get his points across.

The Tree of Yoga (Shambhala Classics)

Iyengar offers his thoughts on practical and philosophical subjects like family life, sexuality, yoga sutras, meditation, death, Pata jali’s Yoga Sutras, and love in this book. Since B.K.S. Iyengar introduced a yoga style that focuses on developing strength, correct body alignment, flexibility, relaxation, and endurance.

Light on Pranayama: The Yogic Art of Breathing

In this book, Iyengar shares various techniques to help people learn various breathing techniques. It also looks into depth the comprehensive background of yoga philosophy. This book is an authoritative, practical, yet indispensable guide.

Yoga Wisdom & Practice

This book contains the wisdom of Patanjali, written over two thousand years ago and now translated to us by Iyengar. The sutras are short and straightforward, with only a little explanation from B.K.S. Iyengar to expound for modern readers to understand. These statuses are a great introduction to the spiritual philosophy, the root of yoga.

Yoga Wisdom & Practice

In this book, Iyengar looks into life, yoga, and the path to peace and happiness. The practice of yoga lies at the heart of this book. There are over 60 step-to-step sequences especially shot in India. Iyengar’s illuminating observations on technique, benefits, and significance accompany these sequences.

The Concise Light on Yoga

This book introduces fifty-seven essential asanas and provides a summary of pranayama. Accompanying the text are images demonstrating how to perform the poses and breathing techniques. Using this book to practice yoga and pranayama without requiring a teacher to lead you is possible. The book also contains an appendix for continuing students.


Iyengar Yoga is a highly respected and accessible style of yoga that focuses on precision, alignment, and the use of props. It offers numerous benefits for practitioners of all levels, including improved alignment, increased strength and flexibility, therapeutic effects, and a deepened mind-body connection. As a beginner, it’s essential to find a qualified instructor, start with a beginner’s class, gather the necessary props, and practice regularly. With patience, persistence, and guidance, you can embark on a fulfilling journey of Iyengar Yoga, enhancing your physical and mental well-being.

Caleb Sharbono is a writer, bio-hacker, wellness advocate, and yogi. Caleb, who grew up on a small Montana ranch, joined the Navy at 17 to study cryptology. He later graduated from the US Naval Academy with a Minor in Mandarin, a Bachelor's in General Engineering, and a Major in English Literature. Caleb's interests and career cover diverse industries and disciplines. Caleb lives in San Antonio and is a Certified Yoga Instructor. He is also studying Zen Buddhism, practicing Holistic Psychology, and working towards his 300-hour yoga teacher training.


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