Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yoga training, 1968 Bombay, from Louis Malle's documentary Bomaby 1969

This is a fascinating video of B.K.S. Iyengar teaching yoga in 1968, in Bombay. Look at the mix of younger and older students (there's at least one child, and at least one rather old man). Look at how they're doing Sirsasana (headstand) in the middle of the room. And look at how the neck is extended in Sirsasana in the man shown at 2:30. He's not going to hurt himself in headstand. (I'm of course thinking of that recent NYT article saying how people will hurt themselves in scary poses such as headstand and shoulderstand -- not if they're taught well!)

Even back in the late 1960's, Iyengar and his students show such wonderful extension through the arms, legs, and trunk, keeping their chests open and well-lifted.

There's a vibrancy to the poses as taught in the Iyengar Yoga method (and as shown in this video) that I don't see in many of the other "styles" of yoga that are commonly taught today.

I can tell when "experienced" yoga students come to Harmony Yoga for the first time, whether or not their experience is in Iyengar Yoga. If their yoga background is from another method, there's rarely the extension and vibrancy that we see in poses from experienced Iyengar Yoga students.

(P.S. Iyengar gets his "right" and "left" instructions confused in this video, while he's "mirroring" Virabhadrasana II -- as many of us yoga instructors also do from time to time!)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Good Explanation of "What is Iyengar Yoga" -- Iyengar Yoga in South Africa

This is a well-done 9 minute video of South African Iyengar Yoga teacher, Judy Farah, explaining what Iyengar Yoga is. She talks about the philosophy, history, and benefits from practicing this style of yoga.

Judy mentions that she has been practicing yoga since she was quite young, but it was when she was about 40 years old that she experienced Iyengar Yoga for the first time, and she knew this was the style that she was meant to continue with.

Her characterization of Iyengar yoga is that the practice of yoga asanas (postures) in this method is more precise than in other methods, and the poses are held for longer.

Judy gives a good overview of why B.K.S. Iyengar introduced the use of props in this method of yoga:
B.K.S. Iyengar was seeing that people were doing the postures incorrectly, and often injuring themselves, but if they were made to use props for support and assistance, people were able to develop better alignment in the poses, with less chance of injury, and with greater benefits.

Judy also reminds us that the practice of yoga is not just physical. This practice affects us on all levels of our being.

If you've been taking Iyengar Yoga classes for awhile, probably none of this is new to you, but it's a nice overview of this powerful method of practicing yoga.