Iyengar Yoga

Your instructor: Crystal McMillan, MA, RNCP

Registered with the Yoga Alliance, Crystal holds an E-RYT 500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher – 500 hours training/5000 hours of teaching experience) designation, with intensive teacher training in the Iyengar tradition. After graduating in 1999 from the South Okanagan Yoga Association, she taught for over 20 years in Ucluelet and Tofino. Crystal continues to study intensively with senior local, and national  Iyengar yoga teachers. Crystal is a member of the International Yoga Teachers Association (IYTA). In addition to Crystal’s experience and knowledge of yoga, she holds a Master’s Degree in Leadership from Royal Roads University and is a practicing Registered Nutritional Consultant. Crystal is a member of the International Organization of Nutrition Consultants (IONC). Read Crystal’s testimonials here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to know before I start?

Crystal will answer any questions you may have about equipment and clothing required for the class. Loose-fitting clothing is enough and you should be prepared to practice in bare feet. You should tell Crystal if you have medical conditions, such as post-operative conditions, hypertension, heart problems, high or low blood pressure, back, neck or knee problems, menstrual disorders etc. You should not eat for at least two hours before an Iyengar Yoga class or four hours in the case of a heavy meal.

What is Iyengar Yoga?

Iyengar Yoga is based on the teachings of the living yoga master Sri B.K.S. Iyengar, author of the classic yoga treatise Light on Yoga, who began teaching in Pune, India, in 1936 at the age of 18. Today, at 93, he continues to teach and inspire students all over the world. His daughter, Geeta, and his son, Prashant, are also accomplished teachers and authors of yoga texts.

The Iyengar family’s teachings are deeply grounded in the yoga sutras of Patanjali, an ancient summation of the path of yoga considered to be at least 2,500 years old. Sri B.K.S. Iyengar’s intense practice and almost seventy years of teaching have produced significant innovations in the teaching of the art and science of yoga. To learn more go to Sri B. K. S. Iyengar : Official Site 

What to expect from this method of yoga

  • Qualified and rigorously trained instructors committed to excellence in teaching
  • A safe and systematic progression of yoga postures to develop each student’s ability and skill, both within each class and from class to class
  • Sequencing that develops strength, flexibility, stamina, concentration, and body alignment
  • Individual correction and knowledge of how to adjust postures for common physical problems
  • Precise use of language
  • Demonstration and teaching of specific points to develop understanding and intelligent action
  • Individual correction and adjustment of students, when necessary
  • Integration of the yoga philosophy with the practice of asana
  • Incorporation and relevance of practice into daily life
  • Ways to use yoga to ease various ailments and stress
  • Use of props, such as blankets, blocks, and straps, to facilitate learning and adjust yoga postures to individual needs

What are props and why do we use them?

Sri B.K.S. Iyengar introduced props into the modern practice of yoga to allow all practitioners access to the benefits of the postures regardless of physical condition, age, or length of study.  Props help all practitioners (including the most advanced) gain sensitivity to the use of effort and receive the deep benefits of postures held over significant time periods.  Props are introduced from the beginning for students with specific physical limitations and gradually in regular classes to enhance personal understanding of a posture and its effects and to develop skill and confidence.

Props include sticky mats, blankets, belts, blocks, benches, wall ropes, sandbags, chairs, and other objects that help students experience the various yoga poses more profoundly. Props may be used in class to encourage students, bolster confidence, and create optimal body alignment.

Allowing students to practice asanas (yoga postures) and pranayamas (breathing patterns) with greater effectiveness, ease, and stability, props provide support for the body and allow the mind to relax and more profoundly receive the benefits of the yoga.

How does Iyengar Yoga differ from other styles of yoga?

The Iyengar method develops strength, endurance, and optimal body alignment, in addition to flexibility and relaxation.  The Iyengar method develops self-awareness, intelligent evaluation, and profound inward reflection.  Standing poses are emphasized at the beginning to build strength and ease of movement, increase general vitality, and improve circulation, coordination, and balance. Postures for deep relaxation are introduced from the beginning. Gradually, sitting and reclining postures, forward bends, inversions, backbends, twists, arm balance, and flowing sequences are introduced.

Iyengar Yoga emphasizes precision of alignment in the yoga poses. Why is this important? People tend to stretch from their more flexible areas and rely on their better-developed muscles for strength, thus reinforcing postural habits. Iyengar Yoga encourages weak parts to strengthen and stiff areas to release, thus awakening and realigning the whole body. As the body moves into better alignment, less muscular work is required and relaxation increases naturally.

How should I begin practicing Iyengar Yoga?

If you have not done yoga before, you should sign up for a beginner’s or a Level 1 class. We offer an Introductory class, which is a good way to find out about Iyengar yoga. Students who have practiced other types of yoga but who have never experienced Iyengar Yoga are also encouraged to take Level I classes for a time to absorb the basic principles and apply them to the fundamental postures.

What can I expect in a class?

During your first classes with Crystal, you will be introduced to the basic asanas (poses or postures), which include standing poses, sitting poses, and inverted poses. All the asanas have Sanskrit names that the teacher will use—don’t worry, you are not expected to pick it all up right away. Crystal will orient you to the fundamental shapes and actions of the postures and repeat them, so that you learn to know them. Gradually, you will learn more about the postures and about yourself, and this will allow you to do and understand them better and receive more benefit.

The various asanas have different effects on the body. The basic postures taught at the beginning will build strength and stamina, and improve muscular tone, flexibility, and alignment. Practicing the postures reduces tiredness and soothes the nerves. It also trains and disciplines the mind so that concentration is improved.

If you have particular physical conditions or are menstruating or pregnant, certain poses are not suitable for practice. Please consult with Crystal before the class begins, so that she can give you alternative postures to some that may be performed during the class.

What are the effects of Iyengar yoga practice? 

With regular guided practice the effects are a general feeling of physical health and psychological and mental wellbeing. This is not to say that ill-health will not arise, it may. If it does it is likely that yoga will help one to face it and may manage it. The focus of Iyengar yoga on postural alignment can alleviate postural/structural problems. It can also release emotional tensions. The yoga is demanding in effort and in attention to detail within the posture, which increases concentration and focus helping to relieve the mind and body of stress. It can help to develop a deeper knowledge of your self, which can contribute to greater self-confidence.

Can I come to a yoga class if I have health concerns or limitations?

Please advise Crystal of your concerns before class. Iyengar teachers are trained to modify and suggest alternative strategies (or postures) to enable you to practice safely and intelligently. Iyengar yoga is open to people of all ages and all levels of physical condition. Do not be put off from trying a yoga class because you feel that you are too old, too stiff, too fat, too thin, too tired, etc. Yoga has something to offer everyone.

Do I need to bring my own mat and props?

If you have your own gear, you are more than welcome to bring it. Otherwise, we do provide all props and mats if needed.

Do I have to be young and fit? 

Iyengar yoga is for anyone irrespective of age, gender, health, religion and circumstances in life. Iyengar yoga is not competitive. You will not be judged against other people. A distinctive feature of Iyengar yoga is the use of equipment, called props, to enable a student to develop strength, flexibility and control in a posture in order to achieve their full potential. In this way a student works to his or her maximum ability. The teacher is trained to select the correct prop and to supervise the individual student.

What should I bring to class?

Most studios provide all the props necessary to practice. It is courteous to be on time and a good idea to arrive 10 to 15 minutes before class is scheduled, to allow time to register, changing for class, and ensure space in the classroom. For reasons of safety and courtesy to the teacher and other students, you may be turned away if you arrive after class begins. Wear shorts or footless tights and clothes that allow you to move easily and that enable Crystal to observe you well. Yoga is always practiced in bare feet. Please do not wear perfume or heavy jewelry.

I have done some yoga in the past, what level/class should I attend?

Yoga is a broad subject with many different approaches. If a student has not specifically practiced Iyengar yoga before, it would be advisable to start with an Introductory class or a Level 1 class. When a student demonstrates sufficient understanding of the asanas, they will move into the next level.

Is religious faith necessary?

People from many religious traditions can and do practice Iyengar yoga. Teachers will not promote a religious viewpoint however, yoga is based in the Hindu tradition and some references may be made to the source of ideas or names of postures in order to clarify background detail.

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