What is Iyengar Yoga?

The Iyengar approach to yoga is firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga expounded by Patanjali in his classic treatise, The Yoga Sutras, written over 2,500 years go. It is a disciplined and deeply research system developed over 75 years by Yogacharya BKS Iyengar who practiced daily during his 96 years – exploring, studying, writing and teaching about yoga.

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar (14 December 1918 – 20 August 2014), better known as B.K.S. Iyengar, was the founder of the style of yoga known as “Iyengar Yoga” and was considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. He was the author of many books on yoga practice and philosophy including Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and Light on Life. Iyengar was one of the earliest students of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who is often referred to as “the father of modern yoga”.He has been credited with popularising yoga, first in India and then around the world.

“Yoga means union. The union of the individual soul with the Universal Spirit is yoga. But this is too abstract a notion to be easily understood, so for our level of understanding I say that yoga is the union of body with the mind and of mind with the soul”. – BKS Iyengar, Tree of Yoga.

What is unique about Iyengar Yoga is that it is characterised in the practice of asana and pranayama with the innovative approach emphasising precision and alignment, planned sequencing, timing and the use of props. This approach has allowed people of varying ages, levels of health and fitness to enjoy the benefits which a sustained practice can bring – the ability to face the physical, mental and emotional challenges f contemporary life with strength, vitality, mobility, thoughtfulness and equanimity.

The term “Iyengar Yoga” was coined by students of Mr. Iyengar to distinguish Guruji’s approach from other styles of yoga. He, however, described his yoga as “Patanjali Yoga” and said, “I have no right to brand my practices or teachings as Iyengar Yoga. My pupils, who follow me, call it Iyengar Yoga. The only thing I am doing is to bring out the in-depth, the hidden qualities of Yoga to the awareness of you all. What I do is pure, authentic traditional Yoga. It is wrong to differentiate traditional yoga from Iyengar Yoga, as it is also not fair to brand Yoga, as Raja-yoga, Hatha-yoga, Laya-yoga, Kundalini-yoga, Taraka-yoga and so forth. There is no distinction between one Yoga and another. Yoga, like God is one.”

Guruji, BKS Iyengar, wrote many books and articles on yoga. A good place to start is with the introduction to Light on Yoga (considered a modern classic about yoga) first published in 1966. The Articles on Iyengar Yoga page presents many articles written by BKS Iyengar and others. For an introduction to Iyengar Yoga go to the Understanding Iyengar Yoga page, where you can read articles by BKS Iyengar and two senior Australian Iyengar Yoga teachers.