My first ‘alignment based’ Yoga practice was in India with one of the Mr Iyengar’s students. Iyengar Yoga for those who havent tried it, is based on the work of the charismatic BKS Iyengar who specialised in rigorous and hyper detailed asana work. He was famous for his strict attitude and for utilising many different types of “props” to help stiff or otherwise limited bodies feel the beautiful sense of length, space and freedom often through holding the poses for what seems like an eternity.

I trained with a man called Rudra Dev in Rishikesh India in the mid 90’s and he was about as hardcore as yoga teachers could be. This was bootcamp before bootcamp yoga became a thing. But it was rarely aerobic, aside from a few of our classes that moved and focused on transition, the majority of what we worked on was static and revolved around using the props.

The prop room that Sri Rudra Dev had was comprehensive, there were woodblocks of various sizes and shapes, rods , straps and benches of a variety of levels. The teaching method was intense and was often about multi tasking different actions through the body and using the props to achieve that. For example pressing the shins apart but the thighs together. Mornings where often focused on just a handful of postures but performed with an extreme level of precision, while afternoons we generally worked on the more subtle practices of pranayama and restorative postures.

This was a base for my ongoing yoga practice for several years.

The next stage eventually I moved into a more dynamic yoga style in the form of the Ashtanga yoga method in which the high level of alignment awareness combined with the opening of the body became an asset. But the dynamic form provided the link that was missing from the Iyengar method, a continuous breath focus, more upper body and core strength, and an element of cardiovascular work. The idea with this approach is to let the body figure out the alignment more or less organically.