Iyengar yoga is one of the modern, widely known types of yoga. Its founder is B. K. S. Iyengar, who developed the methodology for all those who wish to exercise without health restrictions.

What is Iyengar yoga, its features

Yoga means strength of body, stability of mind and clarity of thought.
A clean mirror reflects objects clearly.
Health is the mirror of a person.

B.K.S. Iyengar

According to a centuries-old tradition, yoga was not passed down through books, but fr om teacher to student, by what is known as ‘parampara’. The distortion of practice that may arise due to misinterpretation of yoga books was completely ruled out under the experienced eye of the teacher-instructor.

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, born into a large family in south India, was a weak child. He had to starve often, and at an early age he suffered from a severe form of tuberculosis, which was considered incurable. At the age of 15, the boy began studying under the guidance of teacher T. Krishnamacharya, the husband of his elder sister. Weak lungs, undeveloped muscles, constant pain — all these components of daily practice did not break, but, on the contrary, strengthened the spirit of yogi, set the direction for adapting the ancient tradition for people with different physical abilities 2.

Even if you don't have a flexible body at all, have health limitations, it shouldn't be a barrier to doing yoga. Success, development in practice depend only on diligence and perseverance.

Iyengar’s innovation was that by using props: straps, bolsters, cubes, rollers, chairs, that is, various devices to support and hold asanas (physical postures), he gave people the opportunity to influence not only their health, but also the deeper aspects of life 1.

Interesting fact: after Nikita Khrushchev met the founder of the method in India in 1955, Iyengar yoga became one of the first to come to the USSR. Iyengar put on a yogic “show” for Khrushchev in Delhi, demonstrating asanas that impressed the Soviet leader more than India’s military might 4.

Asanas and pranayamas (breathing exercises) form the basis of the practice. A unique feature of this style is staticity, holding a pose for a certain time. B. K. S. Iyengar insisted on a strict sequence of asanas to achieve therapeutic effect. Adherence to these principles contributes to improved physical and mental well-being.

Who Iyengar yoga is suitable for

Iyengar yoga is suitable for beginners and experienced practitioners alike. The load increases as flexibility and endurance increase. The most important thing for development is the mindset, the desire to practice. You can start training even without prior physical preparation. A mat and basic equipment are required for the class.

Program depending on the level of preparation:

  1. Preparatory. Acquaintance with terms, basic methods of working with the body, organization of classes, features of the method. Suitable for both beginners and those who have previously practised other styles and would like to delve into Iyengar yoga specifically. The class lasts 1-1.5 hours.
  2. Elementary. Studying lying and sitting positions, relaxation techniques, preparation for inverted asanas. Attention is given to correct adjustment of basic body postures. Level for those who have just come to yoga. The class lasts 1.5 hours.
  3. Basic. Emphasis on sitting and standing poses, bends, flexions, teaching the technique of performing inverted asanas, preparation for breathing exercises. Suitable for students of at least 1 year, after completing the beginner’s level. The class lasts 1.5 hours.
  4. Intensive. In-depth workout of basic asanas, arm balances, deep bends, complex twists. Attention to pranayamas is mandatory. For mature, “advanced” practitioners with a year and a half or more of experience, after passing the basic level. The class lasts 2 hours 5.

Benefits of Iyengar yoga

The main direction of Iyengar yoga is therapeutic, that is, it improves well-being in various diseases.

  • Leaning forward stretches the back of the legs and relieves tension in the lower back.
  • Gentle twists activate and strengthen the upper back. These exercises prepare the body for safe backbends.
  • Stretching the arms and legs relieves tension in the spine and energises the body.

Prolonged holding of asanas helps to strengthen not only muscles, joints, ligaments, but also stimulates the body systems: nervous, respiratory, lymphatic systems. Iyengar yoga has over 200 asanas and 14 types of pranayamas 14.

The practice of Iyengar yoga helps:

  • develop flexibility;
  • strengthen muscles;
  • improve posture 6;
  • increase concentration;
  • relieve stress 1.

Benefits for women’s health

One of the directions of this type of yoga is a special program for women, wh ere the natural physiological, psychological differences between men and women are taken into account. The programme was developed by B. K. S. Iyengar, his wife Ramamani and daughter Gita. Asanas are adapted for certain female conditions: pregnancy, menstruation, menopause 24.

As a result of the practice:

  • hormonal levels are balanced;
  • pain is relieved;
  • the body becomes elastic, flexible and taut;
  • excess weight goes away;
  • the emotional background is harmonized.


Individual approach is the basis of Iyengar yoga teachings. It is important to let your instructor know if you have any illnesses or problems that may be bothering you before you start exercising. It is also important to listen to your sensations and not to exercise if you have an acute respiratory infection or cold, so as not to harm your body 246.


  • Injuries or pain in joints, muscles. Excessive strain on damaged areas of the body can aggravate the condition and lead to more serious problems.
  • Psychological problems such as depression or mental disorders, panic attacks. Certain elements of the practice can exacerbate these problems, so choose your level and direction carefully.
  • Heart disease, hypertension or other chronic diseases. Before starting classes, you should consult your doctor.
  • Pregnancy. Certain body positions can be dangerous for pregnant women, so you should discuss restrictions with an experienced instructor or choose a specialised programme.
  • Lack of flexibility or basic physical fitness. It is recommended to adequately assess your capabilities and choose the right level of lessons.

How to do Iyengar yoga

Morning practice energises and prepares the body for an active, fruitful day. It is recommended to train under the guidance of an experienced instructor to ensure injury safety, correct adjustment of body positions, and to maximise the benefits of the workout. By exercising regularly, you will gradually feel an improvement in your health, fitness and emotional well-being.

Iyengar yoga emphasises a gentle and safe approach to practice, so there is no rush to learn new asanas as soon as possible. The transition to a new and more complex position should happen naturally, as you are ready, without strict time limits.

During the practice, it is important to focus on the feelings in the body and the breath. Pranayamas help to create harmony between the body and mind and ensure adequate oxygen supply to the organs and muscles. Breath control helps to achieve deeper relaxation.

Alternating asanas each week helps to consolidate skills and strengthen muscle memory. Gradual increase in difficulty as well as time in asana allows the body to get used to it, develop flexibility and strength, which eventually leads to better health, feeling of energy in the body, emotional stability.

Don’t put off your classes for tomorrow, rather start practicing Iyengar yoga today, changing your life for the better!