Iyengar yoga was developed by yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar more than 60 years ago. It promotes strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance through coordinated breathing and poses that require precise body alignment. The poses are generally held longer than in other styles of yoga.
In Iyengar yoga, you slowly move into a pose, hold it for a minute or so, and then rest for a few breaths before stretching into another. Equipment like cushions, blankets, straps, and blocks to help the less flexible also distinguishes Iyengar from other types of yoga. Although Iyengar yoga incorporates the traditional postures, or asanas, that make up the broader category of hatha yoga, the cushions and other props revolutionized yoga by enabling everyone — even the elderly, sick, and disabled — to practice. Because of its slow pace, attention to detail, and use of props, Iyengar yoga can be especially good if you’re recovering from an injury. It is still one of the most popular types of yoga taught today.
Benefits of Iyengar Yoga:
• Pain reduction
• Decrease depression
• Lessens joint stiffness
• Increase flexibility and balance
• Create a feeling of confidence and well-being
• Reduces high blood pressure
• Boosts immune system
• Increases circulation
• Decrease anxiety and stress
• Strengthen muscles
• Improve posture
• Improve concentration and mental clarity
Let’s see what depression is all about. Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods. However, people with a depressive disorder find they have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities. Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
Each year depression affects 5-8 percent of adults in the United States. This means that about 25 million Americans will have an episode of major depression this year alone. All age groups and all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups can experience depression.
Let’s see how Iyengar yoga did in a recent research paper published in the Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine journal. This study was performed to examine the effects of an Iyengar yoga course on relieving symptoms of depression in mildly depressed young adults ages 18 to 29.
Twenty-eight volunteers were randomly assigned to either attend two 1-hour Iyengar yoga classes each week for 5 consecutive weeks or were assigned to a control group which was put on a wait-list. The yoga instructors emphasized yoga postures thought to relieve depression including back bends, standing poses, and inversions.
The results were the subjects in the yoga classes reported significant decreases in symptoms of depression and anxiety. Yoga participants also reported increased levels of positive feelings and decreased levels of fatigue directly after yoga classes.
The researchers concluded that these findings provide evidence of the important role Iyengar yoga can play in improving depression, anxiety and fatigue and think it would be of great benefit if more complex and larger study designs could be embarked upon.