Why Alignment Yoga – Iyengar-Inspired – Is for Athletes, Everyone

The practice of asana and pranayama not only de-stress you, but energize and invigorate the nerves and the mind in order to handle the stress that comes from the caprices of life.
~B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life

 

WHY DO I LOVE (AND TEACH) ALIGNMENT YOGA???

I’m pedantic about how great it is to impact movement quality and fight suboptimal biomechanics no matter your unique goals and needs to help you feel better in your body and perform in ways that meet your needs.

Iyengar yoga offers these phenomenal elements:

  • It is focused on correct alignment. Iyengar yoga is extremely technical and precise about the alignment of the yoga postures. The tradition asserts that the maximum health benefits of yoga come with the exact structure of the yoga poses; limbs, body parts, bones and joints must all be properly aligned. Out of sound structure comes good energy.
  • Iyengar yoga requires that poses be held for along time. Holding poses helps to build strength, quiet the breath, and still the fluctuations of the mind.
  • B.K.S. Iyengar was dedicated to the healing qualities of yoga for injury and illness. Unlike other yoga styles that focus more on flow, strength, endurance, breath and spiritual enlightenment, Iyengar yoga emphasizes the therapeutic qualities of yoga for sick, injured and (I’d add) over-worked (aka athlete) bodies.
  • It uses props. An Iyengar practice incorporates props so that everyone may find comfort – and critical alignment unique to each body – in all poses. Props make yoga much more accessible to those of us with injury and illness and imbalance. Additionally, they are an amazing way to improve flexibility and educate the body about new and healthier ways of being.
  • Understanding alignment. Seeing and understanding misalignments in others / the teacher can help us to understand those in our own. Many times, we demo poses or spotlight another student which is a great to objective in highlighting an problem alignment – like the law of compensation of tight hamstrings (great workshop) which quickly illuminates how malalignment and immobility will wreak havoc on the spine.
  • Iyengar yoga breeds patience. Holding yoga postures for long periods of time demands physical, emotional and psychological patience and endurance. Iyengar yoga can be a great challenge for the mind.
  •  Iyengar yoga is a fabulous preparation for meditation. Stilling the body is known in almost all yoga practices to be the first step towards stilling the mind. Static postures are a strong preparation for meditation (and for athletes the sports psychology so important in elevating our edge.