I’m a big fan of Yoga as a holistic form of exercise for both body and mind, as you may have noticed from the multiple musings on this blog! In my quest to discover ever more of the intricate fabric that makes up the tapestry of the ‘Yogasphere’, I sought out Iyengar Yoga as an additional way to engage with this discipline. Whilst you may or may not have heard of the Iyengar variety, it’s thought to be one of the most commonly practiced forms of yoga in the western world. It was brought here by B.K.S. Iyengar and focuses on posture, technique as well as breathing and timing; for this reason, I find it somewhat of a meditative practise, and incredibly relaxing. This post talks about the discipline, and is shot outside one of my favourite studio spaces – The Iyengar Yoga Instutute, founded in 1984 where the man himself taught! I’m also taking the opportunity to highlight some of my favourite yoga kit of the moment, including these gorgeous Stance socks & this equally awesome Yoga Design Lab mat. Click MORE to see it all…
I have written extensively in the past about the benefits of yoga including this little beginners routine. This variant is slightly different, and given where I practise it (see the picture above), feels quite unique.
The Iyengar studio is bright and airy, constructed with almost as much glass as brickwork, creating a flood of natural light. The studio rooms are all white and fresh and when lying down looking up in the ceiling you might be gazing at the sky and clouds above or looking to your side at the beautiful verdant gardens outside, your repose punctuated by the song of chirping birds outside. It’s a pretty beautiful setting in which to undertake a tranquil session of restorative yoga.
Of all the variants of yoga, Ashtanga yoga is my favourite as it’s quite energetic and vigorous, which really enables me to work up a sweat. Having said that I still enjoy the occasional Iyengar class as it’s much slower and really emphasises correct technique as well as a strongly focussed alignment. Iyengar has been described as meditation in action. In a sense the emphasis on quality not quantity makes this yoga ideal for beginners. You hold posture for far longer which allows you to properly lengthen and stretch your muscles.
Iyengar Yoga also uses quite an array of props – blankets, blocks and belts to help get into the various poses. This form of yoga takes special care in getting the foundation right and slowly building on that onto more advanced moves (extensions, inversions, twists, backbends and arm balances).
The poses always focus on different mental and physical emotions – grounding, energising, strengthening, stimulating and relaxing. As such, Iyengar yoga has been described as ‘meditation in action’. Practising the yoga poses with awareness has a strong integrating effect, and it is believed that it works to harmonise both the body and mind.
“The practice of yogasana for the sake of health, to keep fit, or to maintain flexibility is the external practice of yoga. While this is a legitimate place to begin, it is not the end,” says B.K.S. Iyengar. “Even in simple asanas, one is experiencing the three levels of quest: the external quest, which brings firmness of the body; the internal quest, which brings steadiness of intelligence; and the innermost quest, which brings benevolence of spirit.”
I also find that the choice of clothing can make such a difference to your session, as Yoga is a practise which generates a serious bodily response! For this look (links below), I put together a relatively coordinated, understated and super-comfy outfit. My favourite detail is without doubt the Stance socks, which apart from being super-technical (compression, moisture wicking, supportive), are deliciously expressive in their cute patterning! The other important detail for me is the suede-soft cover of the Yoga Design Lab mat which gives me purchase, as well as fabulous softness, making the session even more wonderful an experience! An ultra-soft, oversized and aerated top from Wellicious works well with my Bershka Yoga leggings. to complete the look. If the body feels cosy when practising, I think it helps the mind enjoy the session even more!
I WAS WEARING: