Never having done Yoga before I was a bit sceptical as to what would await me at the Iyengar Yoga course. On the other hand, I know enough enthusiastic Yoga practitioners to look forward to the course. Nevertheless I am relieved to read in the description that Iyengar Yoga is known for its use of props which minimise the risk of strain or injury. Moreover, the props guarantee that every age group can perform the asanas as the postures are called.
In the beginning of the course, Yoga mats, belts and blocks are distributed, which facilitate the execution of asanas on the floor. And this is where we start off. Sitting on the blocks, the instructor, Alaina Halford, teaches us the first asana, the basic position. She always shows us how the end position is supposed to look like, before developing the postures step by step. Since we are a small group, the instructor is able to go round and correct everyone’s position individually. Being patient and explaining expertly how to go on the journey to reach a certain position, one can well follow her instructions into positions one never would have thought of getting into by oneself.
The movements are carried out in a slow and soothing rhythm, giving an equal amount of time to building up an asana, staying in it and coming out of it. Being very receptive to the individual participants, the instructor repeatedly asks a participant with knee problems whether certain movements are alright for her to perform, additionally suggesting alternative movements. Proposing alternatives is something she does throughout the course. Thus, she enables every participant to perform asanas according to everyone’s physical abilities. In addition, the belts, blocks and blankets help to overcome certain physical shortcomings.
All aspects considered, the Iyengar Yoga course is the ideal beginner’s course for people of all ages. The instructor is motivating and attentive, thereby creating a very relaxed atmosphere. Throughout the course she encourages the participants to listen to their bodies, to feel the difference after the performance of an asana. In this way the course gets a meditative quality, while ensuring at the same time that no one overstrains his or her body. Afterwards I feel relaxed, yet a bit tired in a positive way due to all the unfamiliar postures.
About the writer: Carolin Langner is currently staying in Worcester for a 6-week work placement. She originally comes from Mainz, Germany, where she recently completed her studies. She holds an M.A. in British Studies. Working for a German newspaper and a text publishing company, she hopes to gain some new insights and experiences during her internships at the Worcester Arts Workshop and Visit Worcester.