New to Iyengar Yoga?
Attending yoga classes for the first time raises uncertainties about many things — here are a few of the clarifications from an Iyengar yoga standpoint, to help dispel any misconceptions and make people realize that everyone is truly welcome.
1) What makes Iyengar yoga different?
Iyengar yoga is the world’s most widely practiced method of yoga. Iyengar yoga teachers undergo long and detailed training in teaching. They are well qualified and experience. They know how to make each pose accessible to any student at any ability with the great help of props. As every pose demands postural alignment, the practice requires concentration and awareness. Therefore, it helps to relieve stress and anxiety. The focus is more on the quality of the movement rather than the quantity. That’s why a practitioner may not be covered with sweat at the end of the session but will be full of energy with a quiet mind.
2) Can I attend yoga class even if I’m not flexible? – I can’t reach my toes!
Flexibility can be developed, and it is best to do so with awareness, and not just by flinging your body any which way. So yes, there will always be room for an inflexible student, because most people start that way. Besides, an Iyengar general class makes allowance for students of different levels — you will only be asked to bend or reach as far as you are able, and nobody will force you to do otherwise until you can.
3) Will it hurt?
In class, there is a critical distinction for students. If you feel discomfort, push it a little, as it may just mean that your muscles are coming alive. If you feel pain, however, stop immediately, and you can do a less intense variation of the pose. This will obviously depend on your current level of activity, but again, you can go only as far as you want to.
4) Do I get to choose what level to attend?
Newcomers to Iyengar yoga or to the studio are asked to attend Introductory Series and/or Level I classes first, so teachers may get to know your practice. You will be advised by the teacher if you can attend higher levels. Please don’t be surprised if you are not allowed to join higher level classes on your first go, regardless of prior experience, as practitioners unfamiliar with Iyengar yoga often require some time to adjust to the teaching style and the detailed instructions.
5) What do I wear?
Any comfortable clothing. We suggest a fitting top and shorts or any attire that shows your knees to allow the teacher to check that your legs are aligned and working. Note that the poses include bends, leg extensions and, for advanced classes, inversions. Please tuck in your shirt.
6) Will I get a six-pack? / Will I be able to slim down?
Yoga generally does not cause your muscles to bulk up away from your bones, but makes them develop closer to the bone to give the skeletal system greater support, so constant practice makes you look leaner and more toned instead of buff and beefy. Many avid practitioners do develop well-tones muscles, and more importantly, strengthen them.
7) What do I have to bring? / Can I wear yoga shoes?
During class, it’s strictly barefoot – we have to feel the connection to the ground that is so essential for a deeper understanding of asana. Bring a small towel if you’re prone to sweat, and leave the bottle of water in the props area. Only drink before and after an Iyengar yoga class. Also, come to class on an empty stomach.
Absolute beginners are advised to attend an Introductory to Iyengar Yoga series. This course is the ideal place to start your yoga practice. Learn the fundamentals of Iyengar yoga in a systematic manner, and build up your strength and understanding while learning how to use your body. This course is a good basis for beginners. It consists of total 8 sessions. Each session is 90 minutes.
Students with some experience of other forms of yoga may find this course helpful as to adjust their practice to the teaching style and the detailed instructions. Alternatively, they should go for Level I class first. Teachers can recommend if they are ready for other classes.
Not sure if BKS Iyengar Yoga Studio suits you?
We are humbled to share that we are a corporate donor of Singapore Children’s Society. Try your FIRST yoga class with us and we will donate $5 to Children’s Society*.
We offers different classes for an absolute beginner and an experience Iyengar practitioner. We recommend that absolute beginner students to attend our Introduction Series to Iyengar Yoga which is an eight-week course covering all the foundations. Alternatively you can attend Level I classes.
You may contact us for more information.
* The remaining $5 will be donated to Bellur Iyengar Yoga Center.