What is Iyengar Yoga?

Yoga is one of the oldest systems of personal development in the world. This system of balancing the body, mind and spirit was formulated by ancient yogis, who understood human’s essential nature and realised a way to utilise our inner resources to live in harmony with ourselves and the environment.

About the Iyengar method

Pupils following the Iyengar system learn through a carefully graded and systematic programme of asana (postures). Once students have a firm foundation of yoga practice, teachers gradually introduce pranayama (breath control). Yoga practice relaxes and energizes the body and mind and brings vitality, flexibility, strength, concentration, self-confidence and mental calm.

Iyengar yoga is suitable for all types of people and all levels of fitness.

Practicing yoga can help you overcome and prevent many stresses, strains, aches and pains. It promotes a firm foundation for health and well-being.

Teaching system

BKS Iyengar evolved precise posture (asana) and breathing (pranayama) techniques with a firm philosophical base in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Patanjali lived about 1700 years ago in India. He is credited with texts on Ayurvedic medicine and grammar as well as the yoga sutras which encapsulate yoga philosophy in just 196 sutras (aphorisms).

The Iyengar system of teaching is methodical and progressive, emphasising detailed correctness and absolute safety. When necessary, it uses supports called ‘props’ that allow students to progress in their practice of postures safely at their own pace, to suit their body. Beginners work in a basic way on simple postures according to their capabilities. As they develop they then move on to more refined ways of working as well as to more complex postures.

More information about the Sage Patanjali, and a recording of B.K.S. Iyengar reciting the invocation to Patanjali is here

BKS Iyengar 1918–2014

BKS Iyengar, the founder of Iyengar Yoga

From his early teens to when he died aged 95 in 2014, BKS Iyengar devoted himself to the intense and unwavering practice of yoga. His commitment and dedication as a teacher brought the fruits of his work to a global audience, though he remained as described in 1964 by his pupil, the great violinist Yehudi Menuhin:

‘a man who brings himself to the altar, alone and clean in body and mind, focussed in attention and will, offering in simplicity and innocence not a burnt sacrifice, but simply himself raised to his own highest potential.’

Born in Bellur, India in 1918, BKS Iyengar’s teachings drew on his own personal experience and focus on the essentially practical nature of yoga, as an art and science for ‘dealing with the physical, moral, mental and spiritual well-being of man as a whole’. He has done a great deal to communicate the methods of yoga in a down-to-earth way that can be followed by ordinary people, and he is known in the West especially for his guidance in the safe and correct practice of asana and pranayama (posture and controlled breathing) and for teaching the curative and therapeutic value of different groups of postures.

Mr Iyengar set the standard for his teachers and students while his textbooks on yoga have become classics. He was based at the Ramamani Memorial Iyengar Yoga Institute in Pune, India, which his daughter Geeta and son Prashant Iyengar run today. There are over 3000 qualified Iyengar yoga teachers in the world in over 40 countries with over 180 Iyengar yoga associations worldwide.

BKS Iyengar wrote prolifically and authoritatively on the subject of yoga in a manner that is direct and accessible to people seeking practical guidance, rather than a treatise that is only scholarly. Perhaps his best known works are Light on Yoga and Light on Pranayama, both of which have been reprinted many times since they were first published.

BKS Iyengar’s methods are passed down to teachers worldwide following a rigorous training devised by him. The term Iyengar yoga applies to classes given by qualified teachers certified to use the name.

IYENGAR Yoga Teachers

There are over 2000 qualified Iyengar yoga teachers in the UK alone, and Iyengar Yoga is taught by thousands of teachers in more than 40 countries.  There are over 20 national associations worldwide.

All Iyengar yoga teachers are trained to rigorously high standards. Once qualified, teachers must continue training regularly and complete professional development training each year in order to maintain their membership of the Association.  In this way the care and precision that characterises Iyengar yoga is maintained.

These high teaching standards are part of the reason Iyengar Yoga is the most widely performed method of yoga worldwide.  Our Certification Mark is the guarantee of this quality.