Vinyasa Yoga is an excellent option for those who want to sweat, build strength and stretch their muscles.
Yoga Alliance is the largest non-profit yoga association in the world that certifies schools and teachers. Jen Fleming explains how a vinyasa class can be intense and athletic. She says that vinyasa is practised for many reasons. One of them is to improve their health.
Vinyasa Yoga is a combination of movement and breath with a flow.
The word “vinyasa” derives from the Sanskrit nyasa, which means to place, and the prefix “vi”, which means in a particular way, comes from this Sanskrit term. Lori Sjollema is a yoga teacher in Marbella. She also runs yoga teacher training courses. Lori is certified by Yoga Alliance.
Lori says that vinyasa can be a sequence of poses performed in the same manner and order each time, like in Ashtanga. However, this is only sometimes the case. The poses, the order of the poses, and the transitions vary from class to class. Lori says that vinyasa yoga classes (with the exception of Ashtanga Vinyasa) can vary greatly depending on where you are in the world, the type of yoga community and the teacher’s training and philosophy.
She explains that even though the speed and difficulty of vinyasa can vary, there is one thing they all have in common: the movements should be synchronized with your breath. Vinyasa belongs to a larger category of yoga known as “hatha”, which is classified by the coordination between movement and breathing. According to Rishikul Yogashala, a yoga education organization based in India, the “flow” of the vinyasa class distinguishes them from other types of hatha.
Each inhale or exhale should trigger a specific movement. Exhaling, for example, could signal that you need to lift your hips into a Downward Facing Dog from a Child’s Pose. Inhaling would indicate moving to the next pose in the sequence.
Lori says that, eventually, you will get into poses where you hold them for several breaths. You can also slow your breath before moving into the next pose.
Popular Styles of Vinyasa Yoga Include Ashtanga and Power Yoga
Vinyasa is a term that covers a variety of styles of yoga. Some vinyasa styles are taught under “flow” or “power”. In contrast, others are named after those who first started practising them. In some cases, instructors must be trained specifically to teach that style of yoga. Some of the most popular styles are:
Ashtanga Yoga has its roots in the ancient Sanskrit text (where all yoga practices have their origins). In the United States in the 20th century, K. Pattabhi Jois was credited with popularizing a particular version of this style of yoga. It is vinyasa because it links breath to movement. Still, unlike other forms of vinyasa, Jois’s yoga style performs the same poses in the same order each time.
This approach was founded by Baron Baptiste and is based on three pillars – asana, which in Sanskrit means “yoga poses”, meditation, and inquiry. The latter two pillars help participants become mentally and physically stronger. According to the brand’s website, classes are meant to be challenging and active. More than 170 Baptiste Yoga studios are affiliated in the United States.
This vinyasa style combines physical yoga and spiritual development. This flowing yoga class includes chanting, breath work and spiritual teachings. It also features eclectic music and meditation. Jivamukti has six different types of classes. Beginners can choose a slower-paced class. Bryan Kest is credited with coining the term “power Yoga”. According to Kest’s website, the term is now generic. Still, he describes power yoga as an Ashtanga-style yoga that includes “elements such as mindfulness, moderation and meditation.” Lori says that if you take a power-yoga class, you can expect to improve your flexibility and strength. You’ll likely get hot and sweaty in a power-yoga class.
Some yoga classes are called “slow flow”, “slow vinyasa”, or similar terms (although this is a generic term for all types of yoga, not a particular style). Fleming says that a slower class allows the teacher to guide students into and out of poses more. It also gives the instructor more time to explain how each pose is done. She adds that the slower pace makes this type of vinyasa more beginner-friendly.
Vinyasa Yoga: What You Need to Know Before You Try It
You can expect that each class in vinyasa will be different depending on your yoga teacher’s personality, his or her training, and the style of instruction.
Is Vinyasa Yoga Beginner-Friendly?
Lori says having some yoga experience before taking a Vinyasa class can be beneficial. The yoga teacher’s instruction will focus on the flow of the class rather than on the specific postures and alignments in each pose.
She says it can be a bit faster than other styles of yoga.
Lori suggests taking a class that focuses on alignment or one that is “slow” to familiarize yourself with the poses if you are a complete beginner to yoga.
What to Expect in a Vinyasa Yoga Class
Vinyasa is a sequence of movements that progress according to three natural rhythms: beginning, middle and end. Vinyasa follows a bell curve. There is usually a warm-up sequence, such as Sun Salutations, to warm the body and muscles.
After the warm-up, you should move on to standing and balancing poses. It’s “almost like a dance, in the yoga format. You’re exhaling in one pose and then inhaling in another,” says Lori.
It can be a comprehensive flow which uses the entire body. Or, the instructor may focus on one part. A class might focus on external hip rotation one day and the shoulders the next day by doing backbends.
Savasana means “corpse position.” According to Yoga Alliance, Savasana can help reduce stress. Savasana can be done in various ways: you can place your spine on the bolster, with your legs on a chair, or against a wall.