Vinyasa means “movement linked with breath.” Postures are strung together in a short or longer flow.
This style of yoga is often quite dynamic, which requires the mind to stay focused in the present to be able to keep up. Focusing keeps you from drifting off and helps you to be present in your body rather than stuck in your head.
Origins and History
Vinyasa, like all yoga styles, originated from Hatha yoga. The term vinyāsa refers to the alignment of movement and breath, which turns static asanas (poses) into a dynamic flow. Modern Vinyasa flow yoga (also known as power yoga and flow) is best described as freestyle Ashtanga as it doesn’t adhere to the rigid structure of Ashtanga set out by K. Pattabhi Jois. Ashtanga can be traced back to 200BC.
Philosophy & Principles
Vinyasa is all about continuous movement and breath.
The term vinyasa refers to a specific series of movements that are frequently done between each asana in a series. These days - the vinyasa is up to the yoga teacher.
The length of one inhale or one exhale dictates the length of time spent transitioning between asanas. Attention is placed on the breath and the journey between the asanas rather than solely on achieving perfect body alignment in a pose, as in Hatha Yoga. The breathing style used is a relaxed diaphragmatic style of breathing, like an ocean sound which resonates in the throat (ujjayi).
Another major principle of Vinyasa Yoga is the bandha, or muscle locking/contraction, which assists you in retaining a pose and moving safely in and out of poses. There are 3 Bandhas.
1 Mūla Bandha, performed by tightening the muscles around the pelvic and perineum area.
2 Uḍḍīyāna Bandha, by bringing the navel in towards the spine and slightly up. contracting the muscles of the lower abdominal area.
3 Jālaṅdhara Bandha, is achieved by lowering the chin slightly while raising the sternum bringing the gaze to the tip of the nose.
Vinyasa Practice Today
Vinyasa classes are often quite dynamic, which requires the mind to stay focused in the present. The practice itself is like a moving meditation.
The pace can vary and there is no one particular sequence that teachers follow, so if you tried a Vinyasa class and didn’t like it, try another teacher!
Most vinyasa yoga classes begin with sun salutations - a sequence of postures done in succession. Many Vinyasa Flow classes incorporate some kind of meditation before and/or after the class too.
Benefits of a regular practice
- Calming - The steady cycle of inhales and exhales provides you with a calming, mental focal point.
- Purification of body -The continual movements, from one pose to another, gives you an added cardiovascular benefit creating internal heat. The increased circulation and sweat leads to purification of the body.
- Increase muscle strength & flexibility - the routines, weather they are slow paced or fast paced are a great workout for your body.
- Brings you to the present - Yoga opens you up to this moment, which is all there is and which is the doorway to experience truth and real happiness.
NBIf your Vinyasa class does not spend a couple of breaths in a pose, it might be a good idea to take a Hatha class once in awhile to insure that you have the correct alignment in your poses.
Practice Vinyasa online with us
We have hundreds of Vinyasa videos on EkhartYoga. You can view all Vinyasa flow videos here.