7 Awesome Benefits of Iyengar Yoga

If you haven’t yet practiced this unique yoga style, you may want to give it a try! Here are 7 awesome benefits of Iyengar yoga…

Iyengar yoga is a unique form of yoga with some powerful benefits for practitioners. While it may not be as well-known as some other types of yoga here in the West, Iyengar is actually a very widely practiced yoga style among both individual yogis and medical practitioners who use it therapeutically for their patients.

Iyengar focuses specifically on alignment and technique in each movement, combining slow and precise practice of yoga poses (asanas) with breath techniques to help build all-over strength, stamina, and flexibility. Iyengar yoga is based on the 5  yoga sutras, and its main purpose is to strengthen the mind-body connection.

Iyengar classes typically have one focus or “peak pose” that you will work up to during the sequence, and the peak pose is usually a challenging one. Rather than flowing through your yoga sequence as in a Vinyasa class, Iyengar is more similar to Yin Yoga in that you will hold each pose for an extended period of time, working on perfecting your alignment and deepening each stretch. Iyengar yoga also makes frequent use of props such as blocks, straps, bolsters, and more to make the poses more accessible – especially for those who are newer to the practice.

There are many reasons why yogis may gravitate towards this unique type of yoga, but here are 7 of the main benefits of Iyengar yoga:

1. Builds strength.

Holding each pose for longer (often upward of a minute) will strengthen and tone your muscles. Standing postures, in particular—like tree pose or warrior 2—can help increase the strength of your lower body and core.

2. Increases flexibility.

Yoga, in general, is known for improving flexibility—and Iyengar is no exception. A study found that after just six weeks of practicing Iyengar, participants saw a significant increase in their spine and hamstring flexibility.

3. Improves posture.

With its strong focus on alignment, a regular Iyengar practice can help you develop better posture. It focuses on correcting weaker or stiffer areas of your body, especially in your neck and back.

4. Boosts energy levels.

One study—which analyzed the effects of Iyengar on patients with chronic respiratory disease—revealed that by practicing yoga, the patients noticed a marked decrease in their fatigue. This could be due to the release of endorphins or increased blood flow to your brain.

5. Decreases stress and anxiety.

Iyengar yoga increases the production of a mood-boosting chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain, a recent study discovered. Participants in the study reported lower levels of anxiety and better overall well-being after three months of Iyengar yoga.

6. Reduces chronic pain.

A lot of chronic pain is caused by improper alignment, whether it’s slouching or slumping. Iyengar realigns your body (especially in your neck, back, and spine) which, according to research, can dramatically reduce aches and pains.

7. Lowers blood pressure.

Scientists have found that Iyengar yoga triggers the relaxation response in your body (as opposed to the fight-or-flight response). This both slows your heart rate and decreases your blood pressure, both of which can keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Read more about Iyengar yoga at MindBodyGreen.com


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