Vinyasa yoga is a creative form of yoga where poses are linked together with the breath in a flowing sequence.
The beauty of Vinyasa yoga is the variety. There is no standard sequence in Vinyasa yoga, so the style, pace and intensity will all vary depending on the teacher. Classes may be sequenced around a peak pose such as a backbend, or they might focus on a particular theme such as the chakras or an aspect of yoga philosophy. The class may be dynamic and focus on strengthening postures, or it may be a slower flow with an emphasis on mobility and flexibility in the spine or the hips.
Moving with the breath
The term vinyasa refers to the alignment of movement with the breath, so although you may also hold poses for a few breaths, you’ll move from one pose to the next using the inhalation and exhalation.
Ujjayi breathing may be practised during Vinyasa classes, this is where the back of the throat is slightly constricted to create a whispering sound like the waves coming to shore. This helps to keep the focus on the breath and the present moment during the practice.
As with Ashtanga Yoga, a Vinyasa Yoga teacher may cue the use of the bandhas, or energetic and muscular locks, which assist you in moving safely in and out of poses and holding them.
The transitions or movements between postures are equally important. Moving safely and with awareness between postures can help to prevent common yoga injuries. You can read more on transitions from Jennilee Toner in Vinyasa Flow transitions and how to safely navigate them
Benefits of a regular Vinyasa yoga practice
- The steady cycle of inhales and exhales provides you with a calming, mental focal point.
- The continual movements, from one pose to another, gives you an added cardiovascular benefit creating internal heat.
- Increased strength and flexibility – whether slow or fast-paced, Vinyasa classes are a great workout for your body.