His name is counted among the world’s top alternative wellness gurus and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that he is largely responsible for introducing the Indian fitness tradition of Yoga to the west. It’s none other than the yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar who’s being celebrated by Google in today’s Google Doodle that shows the renowned guru performing various poses on what would have been his 97th birthday.

Iyengar, who was picked in TIME’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2004, has been a great influence on yoga practitioners around the world. With his world tours and shows, he brought Yoga to the mainstream, and practiced and taught ‘Iyengar Yoga’ right until his death last year.

Downward Dog

Come on all fours (on your hands and knees) and keep your hands firmly down, with fingers spread. Keep your upper arms and shoulders rotated outwards while your forearms rotate in. Push the floor away from you as you exhale, lifting your hips and pushing yourself back into the down dog pose, or an upside-down V-shape.
If your knees were bent initially, straighten the legs, while maintaining the length in the spine. Do this by taking the top of the thighs and knees back. Press your upper arms towards each other, and keep your shoulder blades pointed down along the spine. Firm the outer arms and then press your index fingers actively into the floor, lifting along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders. Finally, firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone.

Mountain Pose
Its Sanskrit name is Tadasana and is very beneficial for runners. The Mountain pose improves posture and firms up your abdomen and gluteal area. Most of the work is done through small movements, while your overall shape remains the same.

Begin by standing still with the bases of your big toes touching the floor, and your heels slightly apart. Raise your toes, followed by the balls of your feet, then lay them back on the floor. Now lift the inner ankles to strengthen the inner arches. Next, turn the upper thighs slightly inward to give them a through stretching.

Expand your tailbone against the floor and lift the pubis, widening them across and release them, working out your abdominal and lower back muscles. Lift the top of your sternum straight, and then extend your collarbones. Balance the crown of your head directly over the center of your pelvis, with the base of your chin corresponding to the floor.

The Warrior Pose
Its Sanskrit name is Virabhadrasana and this pose is very beneficial for runners as it stretches the chest area, increases lung capacity while keeping your shoulder, neck, abs and groin muscles worked out.

Stand straight with your legs wider than shoulder width, bend your right foot forward with a 90 degree angle and push the other foot behind you in a straight line. At the same time raise both your arms sideways to shoulder height with your palms facing upwards. While doing this make sure your arms are parallel to the ground. Bend your right knee then turn your head and look to your right. As you settle down stretch your arms further, trying to push your pelvis down. Hold the pose, before returning to the starting position and swapping the sides.

Iyengar Yoga is a branch of yoga that focuses on bringing flexibility and core strength to the practitioner. Benefits of practicing it regularly include relief from aches and pains, especially lower back pain; improvement in memory, focus, concentration and balance; reduction in stress; and better management of depression, anxiety and emotional problems. In addition, it’s also known to delay the ageing process, while inculcating the right posture in the body. Finally, Iyengar Yoga poses increase the circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body, helping you absorb higher levels of oxygen through optimal breathing. Here are some poses that are especially beneficial for runners.

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