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What is the Difference Between Viniyoga and Iyengar Yoga?
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April 27, 2008 - 9:55 pm
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What is the difference between Viniyoga and Iyengar Yoga? Both of these styles use props extensively and have good systems for Yoga as therapy. Instuctors of both styles seem very competent.

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November 12, 2013 - 12:23 am
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Viniyoga is an Therapeutic Yoga Exercise Program for Everyone

In traditional yoga, the student or practitioner adapts to the yoga. The best definition of Viniyoga is yoga that adapts to the student. The goal of Viniyoga is to positively influence the student's body; therefore, Viniyoga is yoga that conforms to the person. This makes Viniyoga suitable for people who have found other types of yoga beyond their abilities, or who have an injury or disability. Viniyoga is often recommended for back pain.

In a Viniyoga session, you work one on one with an experienced yoga teacher who understands and uses the principles of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). PNF simply means you warm up a muscle, contract it, and then stretch it.

Other factors make the practice of Viniyoga differ from other yoga. In Viniyoga, you repeat the postures; in other varieties of yoga, postures are held in position. Movements in Viniyoga are adapted to the student; the student does not adapt to the movement. Positions and movements are combined to fit you, the individual. Other forms of yoga focus on stretching alone to promote strength and flexibility; Viniyoga focuses on the total yoga experience to promote physical fitness. Breathing is important to yoga practice, but is a vital part of Viniyoga. Other varieties of yoga emphasize form more than how yoga affects the body. Due to the personalized nature of the practice, Viniyoga often has greater mental benefits.

Viniyoga teachers or therapists are highly trained. Viniyoga training can include over two-hundred hours of training: methodology, yoga anatomy, philosophy of yoga, practice, and Sanskrit are standard requirements. Many medical professionals such as nurses and physical therapists find these courses invaluable. Yoga teachers or gurus will find these classes educational and satisfying as they add another layer to their yoga path.

Group Health Research Institute conducted a randomized study in 2011 to determine if yoga is more effective for chronic lower back pain sufferers than stretching or self-help books. The study found that yoga has benefits for moderate back pain. They also say, "Clinicians are advised to recommend classes for beginners or classes that are therapeutically oriented with instructors who are comfortable modifying postures for persons with physical limitations."

If you have a disability, ailments, or medical condition, or find fitness yoga daunting, Viniyoga can be a stepping stone on the road to your ultimate physical fitness goals.

What is Iyengar Yoga?

As yoga grows in popularity among Western fitness enthusiasts, different practices are becoming better known. Some practitioners of yoga find that they enjoy the more fitness-oriented practices of Ashtanga or Bikram yoga, while others enjoy the mental benefits of Kundalini yoga. However, there is another option for those who want both the physical and spiritual benefits that yoga can provide. Iyengar yoga is a style of yoga that uses focus on breathing techniques and appropriate use of asanas in order to promote a sense of inner well being as well as outward physical fitness.

As a form of practice, Iyengar yoga was developed by and named after Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (B.K.S. Iyengar), who has been teaching yoga across the world since he was 18 years old. Iyengar yoga places an emphasis on specific areas of practice. The first is the development of proper technique. Alignment of the body and proper breathing practices, known as pranayama become the building blocks of Iyengar yoga. This is followed by an emphasis on performing asanas in a specific sequence while maintaining good pranayama techniques. Finally, practitioners can enhance their Iyengar practice by focusing on appropriate timing of both the asanas and pranayama exercises.

The high attention to detail and precision is what attracts many of Iyengar's regular practitioners. Instead of having the students follow their example in the class, good Iyengar instructors are constantly working with the students in order to improve their alignment, breathing, and posture. Training to become an Iyengar instructor is particularly tough, with certifications only being awarded after two years of training. Iyengar yoga also utilizes props such as belts or blocks, which makes it a popular form of yoga among those who need to be engaged in some form of physical therapy. Multiple studies have shown that these props help minimize injury.

The dedication to detail and increased physical strength and flexibility that Iyengar yoga can provide makes it a very attractive choice for many people who engage in regular yoga practice. In addition, the various asanas can be altered or adjusted for people with certain motor conditions or injuries. While Iyengar may seem physically and mentally challenging, it can be tailored to provide an intense experience for any practitioner at any skill level.

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