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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Iyengar Yoga- What Is It And How Can You Benefit From it?

Iyengar yoga was founded amid a poor caste of Brahmins in Belur Karnataka, India by Belur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar.

As a child, he suffered from malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever and malnutrition. To overcome these maladies, he studied the vedas and the yoga sutras of Patanjali.

He has published fourteen books on Iyengar yoga, including "Light On Yoga" (the quintessential yoga book) and most recently, "Light On Life." He was awarded the Padmi Shri (1991) and Padma Bhusan (2002) as a distinguished citizen of India and was named one of the 100 most influential people by Time Magazine in 2004. Today, the eighty-six-year-old yogi continues to practice the style of yoga he founded and has inspired tens of millions of students.

Spiritually, Iyengar yoga is based upon Patanjali's eight limbs of raja yoga.

The first is Yama, meaning physically and mentally abstaining from the following five things: violence toward others and oneself, from coveting others' belongings, from sexual intercourse, from attachment to possessions and anything that is untrue.

The second limb is called Niyama, referring to the five observances: cleanliness of body and mind, satisfaction with what one has, penance and mental control, introspection and surrender to God. Asana refers to posture and position (ideally an erect stance with relaxed muscles) and Pranayama is the directed control of one's breath, which is so vital to successful yoga practice. Pratayahara calls for the quieting of senses connected with the outer world. Only then will Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (oneness with the Supreme Being) naturally follow.

In practice, Iyengar yoga is a strange form to watch. Instructors position students in various poses using straps, belts, sandbags, benches and blocks. In total, there are 200 posture positions (also known as "asanas"), as well as 14 breathing techniques (known as "pranayamas").

Beginners, elderly participants and those recuperating from illness often select this form of yoga because it's relatively easy on the body and each member of the class receives individualized attention to ensure that they get the most from the class.

Iyengar yoga has spread like wildfire in the United States, with hundreds of teachers. Major branches of the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States are located in California, Colorado, Washington, New York, Nevada, Texas, Michigan and Minnesota. To find classes near you, check out Iynaus.org as a starting point toward enlightenment and happiness.

It may surprise you to learn that Yoga dates back to 3300-1700 B.C.E. and has long been a practice of Buddhists, Hindus and other Eastern religions. But what should not be surprising the tremendous benefits that this form of exercise and meditation can bring to your life. Working professionals, students, home-makers and the retired alike are finding how wonderful they feel after participating. The sense of calm that prevails as well as the satisfaction of muscles well worked all make Yoga the perfect blend of philosophy, religion and exercise. Even if you do not practice the spiritual aspects of this ancient practice, you can still benefit. Click here to see more: Yoga Positions For Beginners and at Benefits Of Yoga also at Yoga Moves