Last week I attended my first Iyengar yoga class EVER. I’ve been planning for a long time to try Iyengar yoga, mostly because I thought I’m an alignment freak and what better place to be than in an Iyengar studio? I am also super fascinated by the life, teachings and inquisitive mind of Mr. Iyengar. I have never had the honor to be in his presence, but I have a feeling I would have been totally amazed to meet him in person. He managed to help thousands of people and to transmit this ancient wisdom system to the world outside India.
Look where yoga is today! It’s not weird if you say you practice yoga, but rather if you say you don’t.
The contribution he brought to the yoga world is absolutely priceless. This man who barely spoke any English, when the world found out about him, had the willingness to learn, develop and rise above his temporary limitations.
He didn’t like the fact that his students called it “Iyengar yoga”, because yoga doesn’t belong to anyone. Yoga is universal and it doesn’t have any owner. But the system he developed is unique and contributed so much to the development of the yoga world. He is the one that brought the alignment emphasis in the asanas and found a way to adjust the practice to the modern human being used to sit in the chair in front of the desk, this human being that nearly lost the ability to understand his own body and mind and the purpose of being alive. In a way we all practice Iyengar yoga regardless of the style we are accustomed to.
I booked my first Iyengar yoga class with my hands shaking of emotion. I was excited I’m finally trying it, but to my surprise I did learn from previous experiences and really dropped the expectations. I had ZERO expectations and I loved the feeling of “I know nothing”. I had no idea how is the class going to be. I did what I was asked to do and loved it that no one knew I teach yoga too. I wanted to be treated as a complete beginner, as a student, as we all are.
The teacher was lovely and reminded me of Kasia, my first yoga teacher. Her smile, the way she assisted and treated me – it was so much Kasia 🙂 I miss you Kasia!
SO HOW DID THE CLASS GO?
We did a few fundamental postures that we hold for at least 1-2 minutes. We used the wall as a support for standing postures like Trikonasana, Virabhadrasana II, Parshva Konasana. We used the bolster for Paschimotanasana, Viparita Karani. We used 2 very thick blankets for Sarvangasana: for the first time ever it was kind of scary to do Shoulderstand on something that is so high plus to place the legs on the wall. Not the best feeeling, for sure.
Uttanasana with hands on the block – a torture. I love standing forward bending, but this utanasa felt like nothing. I understand the importance is given to the alignment of the body, but really I couldn’t see any benefit of having my hands on the blocks when I can do it without.
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE?
- We did not do any warm-up before the class. We just sat down on 2 folded blankets, closed our eyes, took a few breaths before the class and then interlaced our fingers behind the back and opened the chest. I am a Sun Salutation and a joint warm-up exercises lover. I use to do them at the beginning of each class both when I do my personal practice, as well as when I’m teaching. It helps me focus and prepare me for asana practice. In a cold country like Sweden, it is essential for me to warm up before I attempt to do any other postures. It did not feel right for me to get into deeper postures without a proper warm-up. I did freeze during the whole class.
- There was no importance given or reminder of breathing.
- I couldn’t get into a meditative state of mind. I knew before the class that we were going to use a lot of props and I was excited to try a full session with props in absolutely every asana. However it was very hard to focus on my breath and posture. No meditative mind for me during this class. It was merely a stretching exercise.
- I couldn’t feel any physical benefits of doing absolutely all the postures with props. I love using the blocks, the belt and the bolster in certain asanas, but please don’t ask me to do Paschimotanasana with the bolster on my tibias and utanasana with my hands on the highest part of the block! It was a torture to do that especially when your forward bent is quite deep. It required a complete letting go of anything I know and an invitation to surrender and just trust the teacher and respect the place where I am. From this point of view it was all YOGA.
WHAT DID I LIKE?
I have an inquisitive and curious nature. I love to explore new ways of doing something. I love to talk, read about and practice asanas. It was exciting to see the Iyengar approach towards asanas and alignment. i am sure there are lots of things that I don’t know and understand in the way asanas are taught in this system, but honestly I don’t consider myself to be an alignment freak anymore. I do love it but not in this way.
I believe Iyengar yoga is an amazing style for people that have different illnesses and physical limitations. It’s an amazing therapy, but for the moment I don’t find a motivation to go back to an Iyengar class. I simply don’t feel it is for me in this very moment.
It’s amazing for teachers to learn and explore, however from a student perspective, it’s not really my thing.
It’s hard to tell whether I liked the class or not. It was an interesting experience and that’s why I went there – to TRY and EXPLORE. One thing is certain – I love my jumps, I love Vinyasa and for the moment Hatha and Ashtanga are the only styles that go well with both my mind and my body.
I am getting more and more confused about yoga 🙂 The more I learn, the more I see I know nothing.
© Unfold Your Mat 2016
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