Iyengar Yoga Exercises

Written By Emma White

An experienced yoga enthusiast who has been practicing yoga for 8 years. In addition to her passion for yoga, she is also an avid traveler, having explored various parts of the world.

Reviewed By: Alan Thompson
Edited By: Reuben Lane

Exercises: A Comprehensive Guide

Introduction

Iyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga that emphasizes precision and alignment in the performance of postures (asanas) and breath control (pranayama). Developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, this style of yoga uses props such as blocks, straps, and blankets to help practitioners achieve correct alignment and deepen their practice. In this , we will explore the key principles and benefits of Iyengar Yoga, as well as provide a step-by-step guide to some of the most common Iyengar Yoga exercises.

Key Principles of Iyengar Yoga

The following are the key principles of Iyengar Yoga:

  • Alignment: The precise alignment of the body in each posture is essential to Iyengar Yoga. This helps to prevent injury and allows practitioners to deepen their practice over time.
  • Breath: The breath is an important aspect of Iyengar Yoga, and practitioners are encouraged to focus on their breath throughout their practice.
  • Sequencing: Iyengar Yoga classes are typically sequenced in a specific way to help students progress safely and effectively.
  • Props: Props such as blocks, straps, and blankets are used to help students achieve correct alignment and deepen their practice.
  • Timing: Iyengar Yoga postures are typically held for longer periods of time than in other styles of yoga, which helps to build strength and flexibility.

Benefits of Iyengar Yoga

The following are some of the key benefits of practicing Iyengar Yoga:

  • Improved alignment: The precise alignment of the body in each posture helps to prevent injury and improve overall posture.
  • Increased flexibility: The use of props and longer holds in postures helps to increase flexibility over time.
  • Reduced stress: The focus on breath and mindfulness in Iyengar Yoga can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  • Improved balance: The use of props and focus on alignment can help to improve balance and stability.
  • Increased strength: Holding postures for longer periods of time helps to build strength in the muscles.

Common Iyengar Yoga Exercises

The following are some of the most common Iyengar Yoga exercises:

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Tadasana is a standing posture that helps to improve posture and balance. To perform Tadasana:

  1. Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
  2. Press down through your feet and lift up through the crown of your head.
  3. Engage your thigh muscles and draw your shoulder blades down your back.
  4. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for several breaths.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Svanasana is a posture that helps to stretch the hamstrings and strengthen the arms and shoulders. To perform Adho Mukha Svanasana:

  1. Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
  2. Press into your hands and lift your hips up and back.
  3. Lengthen through your spine and draw your shoulder blades down your back.
  4. Press your heels down towards the floor and breathe deeply.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Uttanasana is a posture that helps to stretch the hamstrings and release tension in the neck and shoulders. To perform Uttanasana:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  2. Exhale and fold forward from your hips, keeping your spine long.
  3. Place your hands on the floor or on blocks, if necessary.
  4. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for several breaths.

Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose)

Virabhadrasana II is a standing posture that helps to strengthen the legs and improve balance. To perform Virabhadrasana II:

  1. Stand with your feet wide apart and your arms at your sides.
  2. Turn your right foot out to the side and your left foot in slightly.
  3. Bend your right knee and extend your arms out to the sides.
  4. Keep your gaze over your right hand and breathe deeply.

Balasana (Child's Pose)

Balasana is a restorative posture that helps to release tension in the back and neck. To perform Balasana:

  1. Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
  2. Lower your hips back towards your heels and stretch your arms out in front of you.
  3. Rest your forehead on the floor and breathe deeply.

Sukhasana (Easy Pose)

Sukhasana is a seated posture that helps to improve posture and promote relaxation. To perform Sukhasana:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed and your hands resting on your knees.
  2. Lengthen through your spine and draw your shoulder blades down your back.
  3. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for several breaths.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana is a posture that helps to stretch the chest and strengthen the legs and glutes. To perform Setu Bandha Sarvangasana:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Press into your feet and lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
  3. Interlace your fingers underneath your back and press your arms down into the floor.
  4. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for several breaths.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)

Adho Mukha Vrksasana is an advanced posture that helps to build strength and improve balance. To perform Adho Mukha Vrksasana:

  1. Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Walk your feet towards your hands and lift one leg up towards the ceiling.
  3. Press down through your hands and lift your other leg up towards the ceiling.
  4. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for several breaths.

Conclusion

Iyengar Yoga is a powerful practice that can help to improve alignment, flexibility, strength, and balance. By incorporating the key principles of Iyengar Yoga into your practice and regularly performing common Iyengar Yoga exercises, you can experience the many benefits of this transformative style of yoga.

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