NYT asks: ‘What’s so special about Iyengar yoga?’

Midweek, the New York Times’ Well blog — which is a nice source of occasional mainstream yoga-related stuff — followed up BKS Iyengar’s passing with a post about what made his particular style of yoga so special. It spoke to Carrie Owerko, an Iyengar teacher in New York.

Post is here. An excerpt or two:

I think one of his main contributions was making yoga accessible, but also the degree of attention he gave to the practices of asana, or postural yoga, and to pranayama, the breathing exercises, was immense. He was also an amazing communicator. He was constantly finding new ways to help his students increase their capacity to be aware of what was going on in their bodies and minds.

Iyengar is a lot of the yoga people experience in the United States. The teacher may not be teaching Iyengar, but that teacher has been influenced by Iyengar yoga in some way.


Take the yoga block. Everybody knows a yoga block. It’s something you can get at Bed Bath & Beyond. The prototype of the yoga block was actually a rock or cinder block from B.K.S. Iyengar’s garden. When he was teaching students, he would sometimes place students over his knee for a supported back arch if they couldn’t support themselves. The story goes that he asked his daughter to go in the yard and bring this cinder block to help. That was the beginning of the yoga block. He would use whatever was in the environment -— tables, chairs, ropes. The more common props — belts, straps, blocks and chairs, this is the type of equipment that was not really used in the practice of yoga. Now everybody is using them. There are never enough props to go around.

Again, as a reminder: We tend to post NYT takes on yoga because a lot of non-yogis will see it and, perhaps of equal importance, other non-yogi media people will — so it can influence the perspective on things, especially here in the U.S.

Although it’s influence fades every day…

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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