Iyengar 201: 8 Reasons to Take This Course—& Advance Your Practice

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Carrie Owerko, Eka Pada Galavasana with a chair

Join Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher Carrie Owerko for our new online course Iyengar 201—a mindful and fun journey into a more advanced practice. You’ll learn different pose modifications and the creative use of props, all designed to help you work with physical and mental challenges. And you’ll walk away with the skills you need to adapt to whatever life throws at you, on and off the mat. Sign up now.

Are you looking to advance and bring freshness to your Iyengar practice, expand your repertoire as a teacher, or simply step out of your comfort zone in a fun and intelligent way? Then our new course, Iyengar 201, is for you. Here are 8 things you will learn in this adventurous sequel to our popular Iyengar 101 course:

1. Accessible variations of advanced poses

Maybe your practice has stalled as you've been dealing with major life change, or you’ve put it on hold to tend to an injury. In this course, you’ll learn how to adapt poses, including more advanced poses, for issues like knee problems, shoulder problems, strength issues, hip issues, and sacral or lower back issues. You’ll explore therapeutic variations of the classic yoga poses, as well as some novel pose variations that are great for everyone! For instance, maybe you're hesitant to go deeper with your backbends or arm balancing poses. Take a pose like Eka Pada Galavasana (Flying Pigeon Pose), which can be quite challenging. We look at how you can do this pose (and others) with support, while learning the sense of direction and muscular engagement necessary to do the pose unsupported. This way you can have the experience of "flight" with less fear.

2. How to advance your practice with props

Props are great teachers. They can provide support, a sense of direction, and even challenge your current capacities. Like a good teacher, they can help bring a sense of possibility to what might otherwise seem impossible. Take a pose like Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose). In this course, we explore the pose a few different ways. We do it unsupported, but also with various props to help ignite intelligence in areas of the body that may be dull or stiff, like the upper back and shoulder region. We try a variation that doesn't require the arms to bear the weight of the body (which is great for those with wrist issues), yet still teaches the arms how to work in the unsupported version of the pose.

3. How to use your imagination.

An advanced practice requires a well-trained imagination. For example, you don’t always need a block—you can change embodiments simply by getting a little creative. In Iyengar 101, we worked on integration, or bringing the differentiated parts of the self into a coherent whole. In Iyengar 201, we go even deeper by expanding our sense of what is possible. We invite more of our imagination into the practice, explore new poses and creative uses of props, and learn how we can grow new pathways of connection within ourselves. Sometimes it's as simple as finding an appropriate metaphor to help support the sense of direction in a pose. Or exploring a variable of focus, like imagining your eyes and ears are in the center of your chest and seeing from that area of the body in a backbend. It can be quite powerful to exercise the mind (and change your experience) in this way.

4. How to use stay resilient

When you practice playfully, you are more inclined to try new things, or do familiar things in different ways. This course adds variability to poses you may already be familiar with, and practicing variability can help build resilience. Resilience is your capacity to adapt to the various changes and stresses of life, bounce back when you are thrown off track, and stay open and engaged even when life presents the difficult or unexpected. You can increase your resilience by getting out of your comfort zone on a regular basis. And with play, that process can be fun. 

5. How to break out of your rut (if you are in one) and find inspiration

If you've been practicing or teaching by rote and doing the same things in the same way for a long time, or feeling like you’re not growing, this course can help. Repetition is extremely important in this practice, but so is freshness, openness, and variability. Yoga teachers and longtime practitioners can sometimes get stuck or become mechanical in their approach. In this course, we are getting unstuck, building on what we learned in Iyengar 101, and waking ourselves up to the practice of possibility.   

6. How to challenge yourself

There are more challenging poses in this course, including a bit more work on inversions and backbends. We take some of the poses that we worked on in the first course in a supported way, and try those poses without support. We will also learn how to approach (and use support) for some of the newer and more challenging poses. 

7. How to tap into the power of possibility

Recognizing that we are not the fixed, unchanging entities that we think we are is part of what we are learning in yoga. Sometimes we have very fixed ideas about who we are and how we are, as well as who other people are, and how they are. However, we are actually always changing and evolving. This practice will help you look at change with much more curiosity. Sure, there are changes in life that we have no control over, yet we also have a say in the direction of some of this change. We can choose growth and possibility as long as we are breathing and our heart is beating.

8. How to become less dependent on your teacher

By cultivating your capacity for variability and focusing more on the direction of a pose (as opposed to becoming overly fixated on shape), you will develop more awareness, self-reliance, and physical autonomy. You'll become less dependent on your teacher for every instruction and correction, and you gain a deeper understanding of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. If you're a teacher, you will be better able to help yourself, and help your students help themselves.

Eager to get started? Sign up for Iyengar 201 now.