Satyananda Yoga is a traditional form of Yoga which includes Asanas, Pranayama, Tantric practices, cleansing practices, mind focusing practices, pratyahara and meditation. It differs from Asthanga and Iyengar yoga in that it does not place the main focus on asanas, but rather works on the multi layered aspects of our being.
Right from the beginning, classes include pranayama, and a Tantric technique of Yoga Nidra which systematically relaxes the body and the mind, and eventually helps our consciousness to move beyond the mind. This deepening of awareness is carried out while practising gentle asanas at the beginning and keeping the awareness inward focusing on how one's being 'feels' from the inside. This is quite different from the Iyengar approach of making sure the body is in 100% correct alignment, focussing on how the body looks from the outside.
One's initial experience of Satyananda yoga is usually that one notices the deep relaxation experienced during the classes and the calmness and peace of mind which slowly develops. At the same time the asanas begin to work with any tensions which may be held in the body and ones awareness of bodily tension and how to release them improves with ones experience.
As one progresses in the practice of Satyananda Yoga, one proceeds to unravel the conditioning of our mind and to become aware of thought patterns. This 'self knowledge' allows one to step outside the 'reaction mode' that many of us reside in, and begin to work towards a higher potential.
A side effect of Satyananda yoga is that the body becomes stronger and leaner and general health improves as a result of the physical asanas and of increased awareness of the body, breath and other internal energies. However, this is considered a side effect and is not the central goal of the practice. The main emphasis of Satyananda Yoga is on inner awareness. Breathing techniques are taught from the beginning and most of the postures are practised with the eyes closed and the awareness directed inwards. As Satyananda yoga is a gentle style, it is suitable for all ages, whether fit or unfit, large or small. However, this style of yoga is not as 'physical' as either Asthanga or Iyengar, so if body training and fitness is a main part of your motivation then may be Satyananda Yoga may not be the right choice.