Ancient Practice for Present Times

Look after the root of the tree, and the fragrant flowers and luscious fruits will grow by themselves.  Look after the health of the body, and the fragrance of the mind and richness of the spirit will flow.

B.K.S. Iyengar

Awareness, balance, harmony and energy for body, mind and spirit are the key components of Yoga practice in all of our classes.

Styles Offered

Our experienced and knowledgeable instructors bring their passion and dedication to each class offered. Our Yoga program includes the following styles: Iyengar, Vinyasa, and Restorative Yoga.

Iyengar Yoga: History and Background

Iyengar Yoga was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar. Born in 1918 into a poor family in the small village of Bellur, India, Iyengar was the 11th of 13 children. He was born during a flu pandemic and his mother became ill while pregnant with him. He was sickly and weak at birth and he continued to suffer from a variety of illnesses as a child, including malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and malnutrition. In keeping with the medical philosophy at that time, Iyengar faced a life relegated to inactivity and bed rest.

At 15, Iyengar went to live with his brother-in-law, a famous yogi. As the young Iyengar practiced yoga, his health began to improve. A new world opened up for him and he describes in his autobiography, “Light on Life,” feeling free for the first time. Iyengar moved to Pune in 1937 to dedicate his life to teaching and spreading the discipline that liberated him. His years of suffering throughout a difficult childhood left an indelible mark on his philosophy and his teaching and he soon embarked on his own style; one sensitive to the limitations of the student. It is through his own transformation that Iyengar came to believe in the therapeutic powers of yoga and he developed the use of props to allow all people, no matter their physical condition, to enjoy its benefits.

Iyengar’s style and message began to create a stir in India and word of his teaching spread. In 1952, Iyengar went to live in Switzerland with violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who was suffering from debilitating pain, depression, and anxiety, which threatened to end his career. Soon a devotee, Menuhin was so impressed by the results that he arranged for Iyengar to teach throughout Europe. It was around this time in the United States that a woman named Mary Palmer began taking yoga classes at her local YMCA in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1960. An avid pianist, Mary went to  hear Menuhin perform in Ann Arbor in 1968. Afterward, she spoke at length with him, not about music, but about yoga. Menuhin suggested she go and study with Iyengar in Pune. She did just that and in 1973 Mary Palmer brought B.K.S. Iyengar to teach yoga at the Ann Arbor YMCA. The rest, as they say, is history!

Iyengar is generally credited with popularizing yoga in the West. In 2004, he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. Enjoying a long life and still doing headstands, Iyengar runs his own institute in India and continues to be an influence in the field of heath worldwide.

Practice and Benefits: Iyengar yoga’s focus is on alignment and adjustment to allow the body to open and go deeper into each pose. The practitioner generally holds poses longer in Iyengar yoga compared to other disciplines of yoga, which allows the muscles of the body to both strengthen and to extend and release.

Practitioners are encouraged to bring awareness to precise muscular and skeletal areas of the body. Also specific to Iyengar, is the use of props, including belts, chairs, blocks, and blankets, to help accommodate structural imbalances that naturally occur in our lives, as well as any special needs such as acute or chronic pain or injury. An end in itself, Iyengar also is often used as a springboard for safe practice of all other types of yoga, as it gives the practitioner a strong sense of body placement and a better understanding of anatomy to avoid injury.

“Yoga is an immortal art, science, and philosophy. It is the best subjective psycho-anatomy of mankind ever conceived for the experience of physical, mental, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. It has stood the test of time from the beginning of civilization and it will remain supreme as a precise psycho-physical science for centuries to come.”

– B.K.S. Iyengar

Vinyasa Yoga: History and Background

Vinyasa Yoga is a dynamic form of Yoga derived from Hatha Yoga.Vinyasa is the Sanscrit word for “flow”. This refers both to the flow of breath and movement in a continuous linking of postures and to the flow of energy, or “prana” generated by this practice.

It is said that the essence of Vinyasa yoga began with a sacred Yogi who lived in the Himalayas. His name was Sri Ramamohan Brahmachari. Brahmachari was one of a handful of true Hatha Yogis that existed at the turn of the 19th century. It is said that he knew over 10,000 yoga postures. (Note that Hatha Yoga is a general term that encompasses all types of physical practice. Hatha classes can incorporate different lineages or styles of instruction, including Iyengar, Vinyasa (Flow), Ashtanga, and meditation.) Another great yogi, Sri Tirumala Krishnamacharya, decided to seek him out to learn about Hatha yoga. Krishnamacharya spent years studying the therapeutic aspects of yoga from Brahmachari where he mastered many skills in Hatha Yoga. Thereafter he developed Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

Traditionally Vinyasa sequences are split into three series consisting of primary, intermediate, and advanced asanas (physical poses). Patabhi Jois, a student of Brahmachari’s, was an integral part in establishing the Western Ashtanga sequences of poses. Patabhi Jois has been a major influence in the movement of Vinyasa Yoga and power yoga. His students were mostly young energetic boys and this practice became very aerobic and athletic. It found a home in the West because of its emphasis on cardiovascular and muscular strength, as well as the traditional benefits of flexibility and mental focus.

Practice: Vinyasa yoga is thoughtfully constructed practice sequences, a step-by-step progression that can bring us to balance in body, breath and mind. Many refer to Vinyasa as the “marriage of breath and movement” the linking of one asana to the next in a dynamic flow.

Benefits: In a Vinyasa class you can experience the balance of strength and flexibility, movement and stillness where each action encourages the next. Flow classes combine standing and seated asanas (poses), pranayama (breathing), vinyasa (sun salutations), balancing poses and inversions. Hopefully you will walk way with a greater sense of inner calmness, breath awareness and overall strength.

Students leave class feeling cleansed, toned, focused and relaxed. Because of its more energetic style of practice, this form of Yoga is ideal for student interested in increasing mental and physical energy as well as mental clarity.

Center Information

Fitness Center Hours
Weekdays 6am to 9pm
Weekends 7am to 5pm

Classes daily. Check the schedule to find just the right one for you.

(925) 254-6877
23A Orinda Way
Orinda, CA 94563

Ample free parking in the rear.

Today’s Classes

  • 9:00 am - Tabata

In Forma Services

  • Fitness Center with a full line of Strength and Cardio Equipment
  • Yoga, Pilates and Fitness Studio
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  • Extensive Fitness & Cardio Program
  • Full Yoga Program
  • Amazing Personal Training Staff
  • Pilates Program on Mat & Reformer
  • Nutritional Consulting
  • Parkinson's Exercise Therapy Group
  • Workshops & Specialty Classes
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