Meaning of Iyengar Yoga
As per Mr. Iyengar, the spiritual aspects of yoga cannot be separated from the physical aspects of its various poses. Yoga, although being an ancient tradition does not have its root fixed to any one religion. Some religion and tradition believe that it is necessary to harm or neglect the body in order to achieve higher spirituality. You might have seen some people walking barefoot on fire, or lying on the bed of nails or whipping themselves or piercing their tongue, etc. to harm their bodies to achieve higher spirituality. But it is not wise to do so today. It is the solid belief of Mr. Iyengar that pranayama and asanas are the powerful tools for cleansing of our bodies. Your entire body is toned by practicing asanas and impurities and toxins are removed which are caused by over indulgence. Pranayama aerates and cleanses the lungs and purifies the nerves and oxygenates the blood. Many people believe that monks had initially started to practice the yogic asanas to improve their physical stamina in order to enable them to sit for meditation for a long period of time.
Iyengar Yoga Sequence and Benefits
In views of Mr. Iyengar the training of body and mind through practice of yoga leads us to the awareness of soul. Iyengar yoga requires both self-awareness and focus. You should come to the yoga mat every day with a curious and open mind to observe your body, thoughts and emotions. You respond to what you observe by adjusting to your practice. To practice yoga you must be present with your body and mind as well. When you drift with your thoughts during posture, it would be difficult to engage with the posture. You have to focus and be present. In some of the postures especially where you have to balance you cannot just think of something else. There are different effects of different asanas. But all of them are the tools of bring our mind to peace and getting still. The presence of mind or the mindfulness is the key of most of the spiritual practice. Iyengar yoga can be termed as a branch of traditional Ashtanga Yoga which aims to unite the mind, body and the spirit for health, well-being, happiness and longevity.
Spiritual Practice of Iyengar Yoga
Spirituality means to be in touch with oneself beyond the normal wants and desiring the material things. Our perception of ourselves is normally influenced by people surrounding us who define us. When yoga turns into a balance of action and reflection on the impact of that action, then the yoga mat becomes a laboratory where we go into research so as to find the best solution for our body and mind. All our curiosity is resolved. The mat becomes a world of exploration. In due course you need to take your yoga practice off the mat and include it into everyday life. Yoga is also about non-violence or not harming which is in the yoga-sutra. We are not doing any harm by working with our body in mindful ways. Here we lean to listen and we do not become reactive. By practicing in the non-reactive state we learn something which can be applied in the daily life. Yoga opens variety of possibilities and takes us beyond the perception of ourselves. The thought of Mr. Iyengar says that we can go beyond our limitation and we must go beyond our limitation but not in terms of physical but he was talking about our limitations of mind. For example when people come to yoga classes in the beginning they think that they cannot reach their toes, but after practicing for sometimes they can easily reach their toes and thus they become open to a lot of possibilities beyond their mind-set. During practice we my notice that when some difficult pose come as a challenge to us we may hold our breath or discover our negative mind-set “this is very difficult” or “I cannot do this”, these insights are a reflection of what is happening in our daily life.
In yoga we learn patience. Some things require time and persistence. Yoga sutra says that we need unwavering and consistent persistence. We also learn to become truthful as we gradually recognise and work the limitations and the possibilities of our yoga practice. We must be honest with ourselves if we want to be happy. If we are sincere enough we shall find out the truth. Yoga is the path to discover about how to live. The ultimate reason to practice yoga is to find the truth. You should practice yoga with the right frame of mind which shall lead you to the positive changes in your mind body and emotions.