B. K. S. Iyengar, known as the world's greatest yoga teacher, brought his own form of yoga to the West during the 1970s. Recognizing that all bodies are different, each with its own set of strengths and weaknesses, B.K.S. Iyengar introduced common household props into the practice of yoga. To safely achieve the greatest range of motion, Iyengar encouraged the use of chairs, belts, and blankets to enable a person to support their body during a pose.
Iyengar yoga is set apart from other forms of yoga because of its strong focus on three elements: timing, technique, and sequence. Timing means that each pose is held for a significant amount of time. This allows the individual to achieve the full effects of the position. The length of time a pose is held will vary with each person, dependent on their skill level and stamina. Postures are meant to be done slowly and with full awareness. The technique aspect focuses on asana (yoga posture) and pranayama (breathe control). Achieving and maintaining the correct body alignment is seen as crucial in Iyengar yoga. In order for one to attain this, the use of props is advised. The sequence element is often different for each person. By changing the order in which postures are completed, the mental, physical, and spiritual effects can be intensified. Regardless of the makeup and skill level of the class, each session ends with Savasana or corpse pose. This allows the person to go into a deep relaxation physically while encouraging the mind to go towards the peace within.
Iyengar yoga is not considered a cardiovascular exercise, but holding the poses can be strenuous. It builds strength and increases flexibility. Because it is not as intense as other yoga forms, it allows those who may be recovering from an accident or operation, or those new to yoga, an opportunity to experience the benefits of regular yoga practice without the worry of a stress related injury.