Iyengar Yoga in Tofino
by Lisa Fletcher, Tofino
Yoga is everywhere these days. It's like a revolution that has slammed into the western world. People are going to classes, teaching classes, and making sure they have the stylee outfits that make it oh-so-trendy.
Yoga has been epitomized and even popularized to mesh with the West's new-found obsession of body image and fitness. Its been fused with aerobics, pilates, and even boxing but it is far from just a physical experience. Yoga came from a long road of science, spirituality and beautifully simplistic art.
Yoga originated in India many moons ago. Sages and gurus kept this hot little secret to themselves, only passing it down through practice to keep it true to it roots.
Patanjali was a devoted yogi who scoured the lands of India in search of science, art and philosophy. He was the first yogi who decided to write the mystery of yoga all together in one handy treatise called the Yoga Sutras.
In the heart of the Sutras was the Eight Fold Path; yama, universal moral commandments, niyama, self-observance, asana, postures, pranayama, control of breath, pratyahara, withdrawing of the senses, dharana, concentration, dhyana, meditation, and Samadhi, the state of superconciousness.
Hatha Yoga, meaning union with force or determined effort, was created from emphasis on asanas (poses) and pranayama (breath work) that were known to open energy channels within to create awareness and stability between the body, breath and mind.
Many styles of yoga have evolved from the Yoga Sutras, Kundalini, Raja, Ashtanga, Kriya, Bikrims etc. Each style with its own edge, some more commercialized than others but most cumulate from the common effort of a purifying the mind, bettering the soul and improving humanity as a whole.
So that's yoga, but there's yoga and then there's Iyengar Yoga.
Iyengar Yoga is a serious style that still holds the true spirituality of yoga days gone by. It is a very deep-rooted and well-rounded practice that comes from physical and mental well being combined with personal growth and empowerment. It's a forever self- improvement project, a philosophy for leading a finer existence.
B.S.K. Iyengar is a yogi from India, who began to spread his own personal style almost 70 years ago after much trial and error.
Iyengar complements Hatha Yoga using props such as wooden bricks, foam blocks and belts with a rediscovered set of postures and breathing techniques. His core belief is that using props gives a freer range of motion to work with, and helps to focus on the smaller details that perfect the pose. It definably strengthens the core body but also holds an innate sense of science.
During an Iyengar Yoga class, it's common to only practice a handful of poses. Most of the time is spent as prep work so that once you get into the pose your body if fully ready for it and gets the most from it. Every pose has a direct affect on some part of the body. Not just on a muscular level either, there are some poses that get deep down into the tissue and even further right down to the cells. You can massage organs, open pathways and focus the mind to act deliberate and conscious.
Iyengar sequenced his poses to maximize the powerful effect each individual pose has on the body and mind. Practicing backbends to rejuvenates the spine while opening the chest and heart but should be followed by a spinal twist to release the low back and restore balance in the neck and spine. The work done in one pose should never counteract the next.
Iyengar's poses are progressive and increase stamina. The longer a pose can be held, the deeper the benefits are felt. A correctly preformed Sirsasana or headstand gets blood flowing to the brain, pituitary and pineal gland, giving clearer thinking, growth, health, and vitality.
B.K.S. Iyengar has maintained integrity by certifying only those who can prove their worth. It's a very lengthy and involved process to becoming an Iyengar Yoga teacher. This is good news for the peeps that take Iyengar classes, quality instructors delivering solid knowledge.
Iyengar Yoga has a holistic style all to its own. As a quote from the man himself;
" When I practice I am a philosopher, When I teach, I am a scientist, When I demonstrate, I am an artist."
Lisa Fletcher wants to tame wild elephants and start a revolution in her spare time.