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Iyengar Yoga: The Easy Way to Improve Your Alignment

A focus on standing positions help work toward better alignment with this form of yoga.

Iyengar yoga is defined by three characteristics. First, it places a large emphasis on alignment, and practitioners frequently use props such as blocks and straps to meet their alignment goals. Second, Iyengar yoga doesn't use one sequence of poses every time—instead, practitioners build up to more challenging poses as they go. Last, Iyengar yoga is known for its slow pacing. The movement from one pose to another is slow and steady, and poses can be held for as long as eight minutes at a time.

Triangle pose with a block

  1. Set up for triangle pose on the right side while holding your yoga block in your right hand. Legs should be double hips-width apart, with the right foot pointing to the right about 180 degrees and the left foot turned to the right about 20 degrees.
  2. Square your hips forward so that they're parallel to the edge of the mat.
  3. Inhale to raise your arms up to shoulder height, and stretch them wide to feel length across the arms, back and shoulders.
  4. Exhale to begin reaching toward your right foot with your right arm, while keeping your left arm extended straight out from your shoulder.
  5. Maintain a strong core and slowly place the block in front of your right foot.
  6. Use the block to support your right hand in place of the floor, with your left arm extended straight overhead. Though you might not feel as much of a stretch here as you would if you reached the floor with your right hand, reaching to the block will help you maintain a better alignment.
  7. With the proper alignment, focus on lengthening up through your waist and keeping your entire body balanced.
  8. If you feel a strain on your neck, look down toward the floor to relieve any pressure.
  9. Hold the pose for at least 10 breaths.
  10. When you're ready, inhale and reach to the left with your left hand to rise up out of the pose.
  11. Bring the block to your left hand, reverse the direction of the feet, and repeat the pose on the other side.

Iyengar yoga is a good yoga style for anyone working with injuries or other limitations, both because of its emphasis on alignment and because of the rigorous training required of Iyengar instructors, which gives them the knowledge to better help you enter each pose safely and comfortably.


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