How can I start practicing Yoga?
Find an Iyengar yoga school or certified teacher near you. Go to the Teachers’ Directory – Find a Teacher.
Yoga for beginners
The practice and learning of Iyengar Yoga is orientated towards gradual but steady progress, rather than looking for quick and fleeting results. It is important, when coming to class, that a beginner student of yoga is encouraged to move along in their practice at their own pace, even though they are working in a group. In practice emphasis is given to different groups of asanas throughout the month – standing poses, forward bends, backbends and quieter restorative poses leading the student towards pranayama. This sequential learning of asanas will give the student a solid all-round base on which to build their practice. Each class will have a freshness as the teacher will sequence, time and link the asanas in different ways. The benefits of such a practice are far reaching and will assist the practitioner in every aspect of daily living.
Progress in practice will depend on the individual – attitude, desire – but it will always be challenging. Guruji sees practice (sadhana) as a qualitative evolutionary process. “Yoga is both an evolutive (onward journey) and involutive (inward journey) path in the quest for the Soul.” After even one class students notice a difference in mental and physical health – concentration improves, emotions steady and they increasingly experience feelings of confidence and well-being.
When First Coming to Class
The beginner student when entering a class should expect a teacher who has been certified by the BKS Iyengar Yoga Association of Australia or by Yogacharya BKS Iyengar to be conducting the class. A certified teacher is licenced to display the Iyengar Yoga Certification Mark and only those who can display this mark have a certificate which is current and so is entitled to use the name of Iyengar. The teacher should ask if the student has any medical problems or any other concerns so that they will be able to give consideration to the student and understand his/her individual needs. With the training and ongoing learning and professional development the teacher receives over many years he/she is considered a professional in their field.
Many Iyengar yoga schools and centres offer yoga classes at a number of levels. For those new to yoga with no previous experience, it is suggested that they start in beginners or introductory classes. These classes may be casual (no booking required, pay for one class) or courses (generally of 5 to 10 weeks duration).
What to expect in class
A number of aspects of Iyengar yoga classes may distinguish them from other yoga practices
- That the teacher conducting the class is a certificated teacher with the BKS Iyengar Yoga Association of Australia.
- That importance is given to the practice of the standing asanas.
- That emphasis is given to precision and alignment in all postures – standing, sitting, twisting, inverted, forward bending, backward bending or supine poses.
- The class should be sequenced in such a manner that it gives the student a sense of confidence, courage and optimism.
- That introduction to inverted poses be limited to Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulderstand), Halasana and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana. Salamba Sirasasana (headstand) is integrated into the practice only after the student becomes adept at Salamba Sarvangasana, Halasana and variations.
- That props such as wooden bricks, belts, ropes are used to enable the practitioner to achieve the posture. Having gained understanding through the use of props, the practitioner will eventually learn to perform the posture without props.
Preparing for class
- What to wear – loose, comfortable clothing e.g. shorts, t-shirt, trackpants
- Food – It is suggested that food not be taken within 2/3 hours prior to class. Something light one hour before is acceptable.
- Illness/Injury – Advise the teacher before class if you have any significant health problems.
Menstruation/Pregnancy – You must advise the teacher if you are menstruating. It is not recommended that you begin a yoga practice when pregnant. The student must check with the teacher and ask if the teacher is qualified to teach a pregnant woman.