Impressions: Iyengar Yoga with Juan Carlos Russo

A little tired of the flowing yoga styles and seeking a more meditative practice with a space for going deeper into the posture, I’m heading off to the Iyengar class with Juan Carlos Russo.

Photo: Anastasia Shevchenko

The first impression is very pleasant: Juan Carlos is very friendly, open, humble, and easy-going. He invites us to come closer, as it is important for him to be able to see each of the students. We begin the class with the invocation to Patanjali chant, the second half of which makes me very happy as it is something that reminds me of Ashtanga Yoga.

Speaking of that, as an Ashtangi I have a lot of respect for the Iyengar method. After all, both originate from the teachings of the great master of yoga Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, and personally, I find the two much more similar than different. The alignment principles, asana techniques, and sequencing are essentially very close to each other, with the major difference between the styles being the focus of the practice, the teaching model, and the use of props.

Photo: Anastasia Shevchenko

As the class unfolds, Juan Carlos introduces progressively a series of postures with very specific alignment instructions. It takes a while to go through each of the posture as there are many things to be discussed and reminded of. This is typical for the Iyengar class: a teacher is expected to possess great knowledge about the proper to the method alignment principles behind the postures and be able to share that knowledge with the students in a discursive manner throughout the class, inviting questions and making use of ample demonstration.

Photo: Anastasia Shevchenko

Throughout the class, Juan Carlos reminds the students to approach the practice of the asana in a meditative manner, pointing to a higher purpose behind doing yoga. As he explains all the different elements of each asana, what he is basically doing is giving each person a tool to access their bodies in a more inquisitive manner, inviting more physical and intellectual awareness, encouraging a more active kind approach to the individual experience of yoga.

Photo: Anastasia Shevchenko

Near the end of the class, we do a couple of calming postures and during the final relaxation, Juan Carlos continues to guide the students through a series of steps to reach higher levels of tension release, this time – beyond the physical and the mental. I feel deeply relaxed afterwards and very grateful for this experience.

Photo: Anastasia Shevchenko

You can still catch a yoga class with Juan Carlos Russo tomorrow 12:30-14:14 in Yoga 3, together with live music by Krishna Takis.

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