My New Love, Iyengar Yoga

Foreign Service LifeHealth/BeautyPeruRecommendations
July 28, 2013

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I discovered Yoga during my pregnancy with Nia (fyi, it was a Godsend for dealing with back and hip pain).  I maintained the practice after her birth, primarily doing Hatha yoga, a very gentle type of yoga that is easy on my arthritic joints.

In February I started searching for a studio in Lima and was delighted to find Lima Yoga.  They have 5 locations in Lima (2 in Miraflores, 1 in Magdalena, 1 in Surco and 1 in La Molina).  Lima Yoga has single class rates for around $10 a class but the best deal (which I got, of course!) is the annual pass which averages out to $40 a month for unlimited classes at any of the 5 locations.  Given that each site has between 30 and 45 classes per week, it’s easy peasy to find classes that work in my schedule (and did I mention that I can walk to class? Love that).

I started with Traditional and Hatha courses and then one day (on a whim) I decided to try an Iyengar class.  It was crazy-intense and my legs shook on every single pose, but wouldn’t you know it – I was hooked!

Iyengar is basically a variation of Hatha that incorporates props and has the yogini sustain the pose (or Asana) for a longer period of time.  In Iyengar, there is particular emphasis on breath control, alignment and precision.  Props are used to minimize the risk of injury and they also make it accessible to young and old (no seriously, there is a modification for every single pose that will make it work for you).  The 4 most common props used in Iyengar are (from left to right): bolster, chair, strap, block.  Let me give you a sense of how each is used…

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Here’s an example of a modification using a block.  Usually you would place your hands on the floor but if your lack of flexibility prevents that, then you can use blocks to accommodate your needs.

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Straps are used to both add tension and for modifications on poses where you can’t reach your feet.  Here’s an example of how we used the strap the other day to increase the tension on our hip flexors.

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We have a designated “chair day” each week where every pose (Asana) we do that day incorporates the chair.  You would be amazed to see all the ways you can wrap your body around a folding chair!  Below is an example of a common Asana we do at the end of class to stretch our backs.

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Not to brag, but here are two of the poses that I was most excited to accomplish…

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One of the unexpected benefits has been the positive effect it’s had on my Spanish.  The classes are taught exclusively in Spanish (although most instructors speak English and will switch to that when helping me). However, instructions are spoken VERY SLOWLY during Yoga and most of the spoken words are command statements. By simply watching the teacher’s movements and listening, I can piece together the meaning of words that I didn’t previously know. Additionally, the majority of students are Peruvians, so it’s been a great chance to interact with locals and practice my Spanish in a setting that’s comfortable and relaxed.

So there you have it.  Me + Iyengar Yoga FOR LIFE!

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