What is Iyengar Yoga

The Iyengar method teaches asanas and pranayama through a deep awareness of correct alignment and through precise actions guided by specific instructions. The technique helps to refine the poses, while it trains the mind to remain alert, focused, and composed.

What is the primary objective of this practice?

Iyengar Yoga utilizes the practice of asana and pranayama towards the end of transforming the consciousness into its concentrative, meditative and absorptive modes. Through detailed, progressively refined instruction, mind, body and breath are trained to work hand in hand to steady and calm the ever-moving mind to the point where it can connect to its tranquil source.

What makes Iyengar Yoga different from other styles/schools of yoga?

Iyengar Yoga is unique in its very rigorous emphasis on the correct alignment of the poses, its sophisticated approach to therapeutics, and the subtlety of its approach to pranayama. The study of alignment in Iyengar Yoga is not limited to physical alignment: though it begins with the physical alignment of different parts of the body, it includes the alignment of body, mind and breath, and thus develops from the gross (in the beginning) to the subtle.

In Iyengar Yoga, the limbs of asana and pranayama are not separated from the other limbs of yoga. The body is used as the vehicle to delve into the complete understanding of the Self. The yoga practices are used as points of inquiry to develop a refined awareness and discriminative intelligence that leads to the unfolding of wisdom and enlightenment.

Who founded Iyengar Yoga, and when?

Iyengar Yoga has never been formally founded as a school. However, it is based on the nearly 80 years of uninterrupted personal practice and teachings of BKS Iyengar, and more recently on the teachings of his daughter Geeta Iyengar and his son Prashant Iyengar.

BKS Iyengar
BKS Iyengar

Who or what have been the major influences on the creation of Iyengar Yoga?

The major influences are the teachings of Krishnamacarya, who was BKS Iyengar’s teacher and brother-in-law, as well as the major texts of yoga, such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and the Bhagavad Gita.

How would you describe a typical Iyengar Yoga class?

A typical Iyengar Yoga class runs for 90 to 120 minutes.
The Iyengar method is progressive in its approach, building from a syllabus of poses for beginners to one suitable for advanced practitioners. There are different kinds of sequences depending on what kind of class is being taught: standing poses, forward bends, backbends, twists, arm balances, restorative poses, inversions, or pranayama. The class sequences vary depending on the level and condition of the students. Because there is no set sequence of poses, every class is different, but the emphasis is always on building a consistent arc of actions throughout the class.

An Iyengar Yoga class contains detailed verbal instruction, with misalignments and errors actively corrected. An Iyengar class is a space for learning, where students are guided by their teacher to help them to build an understanding and mode of inquiry that enables them to practice on their own.

Padangusthasana dhanurasana.
Padangustha dhanurasana

Does an Iyengar Yoga class typically include meditation, chanting, or other yogic practices?

Usually, pranayama is taught separately from asana and is not taught to students in the first six months. Chanting is generally done at the beginning of class in the form of an invocation to Patanjali. Formal meditation as a separate practice is rarely taught, because Mr. Iyengar stresses the idea of “meditation in action” (in the asanas or pranayamas).

Who are the leading teachers of Iyengar Yoga, and where are the leading centers or schools?

Both in the US and internationally, there is a certification system which designates levels of teaching credential. The highest certification level in the US is currently held by two teachers: Manouso Manos and Patricia Walden. There are many other teachers certified at the level just below theirs. There are also many senior level teachers in other countries, such as France, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

There are many Iyengar Yoga studios throughout the US and the world and four non-profit Iyengar Yoga Institutes in the US (New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Champaign-Urbana, Illinois).

What does it mean to be a certified teacher of Iyengar Yoga?

The Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States (IYNAUS) oversees the assessment and certification process in the US according to international standards created by BKS Iyengar and employed by associations throughout the world. In order to become a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher at the Introductory level, students must generally study Iyengar Yoga for a number of years, apprentice with a mentor and/or attend an Iyengar yoga teacher training program, and take an assessment, which tests the performance of the poses as well as teaching skills and understanding of anatomy and philosophy of yoga. There are a number of levels of certification above the introductory level: Intermediate Junior I, II, and III, Senior Intermediate I, II, and III, and Advanced. Continuing education is required for all certified Iyengar yoga teachers.


If you own the rights to the photographs on this page, please contact us so we may formally request permission to use them.