B.K.S. Iyengar is the man after which this Yoga form takes its name. It is based on the principles of yoga explained in the Yoga Sutras written by Ptanjali. Iyengar Yoga is essentially a form of Hatha Yoga, but practiced in a unique way. Iyengar Yoga pays more attention on the accuracy with which the various components of yoga are performed. Whether it is the asanas (the postures) or pranayama (breathing control), all have to be done with absolute precision.
The founder of Iyengar Yoga did extensive work to systematize the different asanas (around 200) and pranayama (about 14) in Hatha Yoga. He also proposed many different variations of these classical postures and breathing exercises that started from a basic level and went up to the advanced levels. The stepwise approach of Iyengar Yoga helps the practitioner slowly move from the simpler postures to the difficult ones.
The unique feature about Iyengar Yoga is that unlike any other form of Yoga, Iyengar Yoga uses props. Yes, Iyengar Yoga uses everything from belts, blocks, blankets or any other type of aid that helps is performing asanas. Now, there is another benefit to using these props. It is the reduced risk of injury. Since the tools ensure that the practitioner does the asana correctly, the risk of straining any muscle or body part accidentally is eliminated.
Timing is also as important in Iyengar Yoga as the precision of the asanas. Since each and every step in Iyenagar Yoga is detailed, it becomes really easy for the practitioners to follow. Another important focus of Iyengar Yoga is the sequence. The proponents of this form of Yoga believe that it is very important to follow a certain sequence of asanas and pranayamas in order to achieve the desired results.
This is also the main reason that Iyengar Yoga has become so popular with the masses. It allows every person to perform the most difficult of postures with ease. It really does not matter which age group the practitioners belong to, or how flexible they are. The step-by-step approach of Iyengar Yoga makes sure that everyone is able to participate and benefit from it.
There are many benefits of Iyengar Yoga that range from better physical health to improved mental health. It helps in correcting the alignment of the body and massages the internal organs of the body to release toxins from the body. The breathing exercises help in obtaining clarity of thought and also aid in curing depression.
There is also a lot of literature written by B.K.S. Iyengar that is easily available across the world. Published in 1966, Light on Yoga is one of the most widely read books on this subject. Iyengar Yoga has slowly become one of the most popular forms of Yoga across the world, mainly because of the high degree of accessibility. It makes a common man practice all the postures and breathing exercises without being a yoga expert.