Words by Samantha Ickes
“Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.” – B.K.S. Iyengar
B.K.S. Iyengar founded Iyengar Yoga, a form of yoga that emphasizes alignment of the body, during the 1970s. He worked with more than 200 poses and 14 different types of pranayama (control of breath). These poses aim to target alignment and focus breathing to unite the mind, body and soul for health and well-being.
Iyengar Yoga can be a starting place for yogi beginners because of the emphasis it puts on alignment and executing all poses correctly. Iyengar didn’t see any limitations to yoga. He thought it should be approachable to anyone no matter what challenges—whether it is physical or mental—that individuals face.
Another important aspect of Iyengar Yoga is pranayama, which means “control of the breath.” Focusing on the breathing can be a stress relief for students who are feeling overwhelmed.
Beginning and ending a yoga sequence with controlled, deep breathing can be beneficial for your yoga practice. Reflect and focus on your surroundings as your stomach rises with a deep inhale and deflates as you exhale.
1. Sukhasana: sit cross-legged on the floor with your spine straight and tall. Place your hands on your thighs and close your eyes as you breath in and out steadily. If you want to check for full breathing, place your hands on your stomach. You should feel your stomach expand with air as you breathe in.
2. Uttanasana (forward fold): slowly stand up with your feet at the edge of the mat. Keep your knees slightly bent as you place your hands on the mat in line with your feet. Be careful not to lock your knees as you rest here for a few breath cycles.
3. Tadasana (mountain pose): slowly raise your arms above your head with your palms facing each other. Keep your spine and your legs straight without locking your knees. Hold this pose for at least two breath cycles
4. Vrksasana (tree pose): from mountain pose, bring the palms of your hands together and intertwine your fingers. Lower your arms and bring your right leg straight up, bending your knee. Catch your knee with your intertwined fingers. Guide your foot to the inside of the opposite legs thigh. Raise your arms overhead with your palms touching, aligned above your head. Hold this for at least two breath cycles before repeating this on the other side.
5. Urdhva Prasarita Padasana: lay on the floor with legs up the wall and your back against the floor. Stay in this pose in meditation for three to five minutes.