A student, exposed for the first time to Iyengar Yoga, experiences the pratice on the layer which is most accessible for him/her, the physical layer. The movement, and the correct alignment of the asana, strengthen and stretch all the muscles involved in the body, the joints, and the organs, thereby laying the first foundation for further access to one's own consciousness. With movement, rigidities are eliminated in the body, muscles are strengthened and extended, which leads to more freedom of movement and thus, not only subjectively, increased wellbeing. The movement, when performed with correct alignment, provides the body higher oxygenation and energy. This helps the body better dispose accumulated toxins, and to revitalize the functions of the organs.
B.K.S. Iyengar recognized early that not all students, especially those with extreme stiffness, advanced age or illness-related restrictions, may benefit as much from the many positive effects of Yoga in equal measure. So over the years he learned to put things from everyday life to use in order to allow the students to practice the postures and benefit from the above mentioned effects. For example, if a student doing a forward bend is not able to hold his back concave while his hands reach the floor without pain, the floor has to come closer to the student, that was how the block came to be used as a Yoga prop. Over the years, the tools that are now typical of the Iyengar Yoga such as straps, blocks, chairs, ropes, planks and many other props were developed and included in the practice of Yoga. The purpose of these modifications was to achieve the proper physical alignment in asanas according to the individual requirements of the student. This made it easier to experience, not only the intensity, but importantly the mindful perception of the asana.
Which brings us to the next important aspect of the practice, the mindful perception.
Equipped according to his/her needs, a student should be able to develop a zone in which he/she can perceive the correct orientation in an asana.
This is achieved by deliberately directing the consciousness of the student to different areas of the body, in order to fill out the performed asana with a higher degree of awareness and experience oneself within the asana. This combination of simultaneous physical movement and mindful perception arouses and grows the awareness of the student, opening a chance to access another, centered and meditative level of existence.The simultaneous emphasis on action and mindful perception induce a state of cessation of noise in the mind, replaced by a centered concentration. This concentration creates a space of peace and deep relaxation.
The awareness for all ongoings within oneself, first of on the pyhsical level, expands to the other above mentioned level of the students existence. On the psychic and mental level the student becomes aware of emotions, maybe even those laid aside for long time. In the beginning this form of concentration may only last for a short time span, however gradually with practice, the student may be able to prolong this state even to the time he/she is not on his/her mat actively performing the asana.
Even if the student has no interest in the advanced meditative aspect of Yoga, Iyengar Yoga offers a highly effective and sustainable method to improve physical health significantly. Through increased energy balance and mindful awareness of the body and its actions, an overall state of well-being is inevitably developed.
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