Iyengar Yoga for Beginners

What to expect: A strong emphasis on therapeutic sequences of precise alignment during each asana, or pose. Props like blocks, bolsters and straps, among others, allow all students—regardless of strength and flexibility levels—to achieve correct posture. 

Who should try it: Anyone suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain or arthritis—ailments usually caused by dysfunctional anatomical alignment. 

The details: Researchers at the David Griffin School of Medicine at UCLA in Los Angeles, California observed five young adults with rheumatoid arthritis in a pilot study, and found that engaging in Iyengar yoga twice weekly over the course of six weeks improved symptoms of pain, depression and disability, suggesting that yoga may offer complementary treatment benefits.

Regardless of pain levels, people who get satisfaction from doing a pose precisely right will enjoy Iyengar yoga. “This style is ideal for those who like attention to detail,” says Judi Bar, the lead yoga therapist at the Cleveland Clinic Lifestyle 180 Program. “You can really learn to quiet your mind while focusing on your body.”