Iyengar: The Ideal Yoga for Athletes?

Yoga is for everyone. But not every type of yoga is for everyone.

Many like to bounce around and explore many different styles, teachers and studios before they find exactly what they want in a yoga class. After all, certain styles can feel radically different from one another.

But one of the least popular types of yoga among athletes and active folks may very well be among the most beneficial. A form of Hatha Yoga called Iyengar Yoga, created by B.K.S. Iyengar is known mostly for its extensive use of props like blocks, blankets, straps and ropes hanging from the wall.

It's very precise (you just can't get away with a lazy downward dog in one of these classes) and really focuses on the structural alignment of the body. Teachers stress the effect that every tiny action, right down to the exact positioning of your fingers or hands, has on the rest of your body. In fact, some medical schools, like Temple Medical School in Philadelphia has actually employed an Iyengar class in their first-year med school requirements for their medical students, in conjuction with their anatomy classes.

For this reason, Iyengar can be a great type of yoga for athletes—but it's certainly not for everyone.

Here are some of the pros and cons of getting into Iyengar to help you make an informed decision as to whether or not you want to give it a try.

More: The ABCs of Yoga Styles

THE UPS:

It's Hands On

Iyengar teachers have a well-developed eye. They'll observe and work closely with each student to individualize corrections. They adjust everyone according to their needs, injuries and body types. For runners and athletes who really take a toll on themselves, physically, the individual attention to your particular alignment and muscle intelligence is the bodywork you need.

You Can Go to Class With a Recovering Injury

In fact you should go with a recovering injury. You can have total and complete trust in your teacher to help you address and rehab your particular ailment, pain, suffering or physical problem and to adjust every pose for you based on your phase of recovery. Iyengar is often used in conjunction with physical therapy since it assists in the manipulation of the inflexible or injured area.

More: 6 Yoga Tips for Beginners

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