What is Vinyasa Yoga?
Vinyasa Yoga is a dynamic, flowing style of yoga, in which movements are performed synchronously with the breath.
The Sanskrit term Vinyasa is made up of "vi" (in a certain way) and "nyasa" (put, put, lay). So this type of yoga is about performing movements in a certain way or joining together asanas in a certain way.
This idea is much older than the yoga style itself and stands for practice in a constant flow in which intention, breath, bandhas , direction of view (Drishti) and movement become one. The movement from one asana to the other does not happen in the sense of "I have to go from A to B somehow quickly", but rather: The way is the goal. The transition from one pose to the other is as long as the breath. Strictly speaking, there is no pause in the next posture, but the next immediately follows at the end of one breath / movement sequence.
In order to control the breath perfectly, Ujjayi-Pranayama (= "victorious breath") is used as a breathing technique: Here, breathing is carried out through the nose and the breath is "slowed down" in the throat, so that a sound similar to the sound of the sea noise is generated. The length and intensity of the breaths should always remain the same no matter how strenuous it gets.
The original form of Vinyasa Yoga is Ashtanga Yoga, where Asanas are practiced in a dynamic, powerful way in defined series. When talking about “a Vinyasa” in yoga classes, this usually refers to a sequence of movements (determined by the teacher beforehand), which, for example, marks the transition from one sequence to the next and is also part of the salutation of the sun (classic: inclined plane - Chaturanga - looking up dog - looking down dog).
Vinyasa Yoga can have very different forms. Power yoga, for example, developed by Bryan Kest in the USA, is very workout-oriented and places less emphasis on the spiritual aspects of yoga. Also Jivamukti Yoga is a form of Vinyasa Yoga, there are Hatha Yoga with Vinyasa elements and all sorts of other mixtures. Common to all is the dynamics and the breath-guided flow through the movement.
What you can expect from a Vinyasa yoga class
In a Vinyasa class you will sweat, stretch, build strength and one or the other crazy posture. You will also learn to listen carefully, because the announcements of the teachers can follow each other very quickly, depending on the pace of the class. Since the sequences often vary and are not defined as in Ashtanga Yoga, you do not always know what will come next.
The warm-up is done by various sun greetings, which can vary depending on the school and teacher. Asanas are usually practiced, which are always connected by the flowing Vinyasa sequence. Depending on the focus of the teachings, this can be more hip openers, more back bends, twists or reversals. Usually there are classes for different levels, but each pose is usually structured in such a way that you learn to vary according to your own needs (ie: "go further" or do "less").
The yogi's greatest love-hate is abdominal muscle training, which in Vinyasa lessons is definitely given a place through various exercises. Because: Without abdominal muscles, no handstand, no headstand, no arm balances. Also, pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation can be a part of the program hours.
Ujjayi breath, quick movements, correct alignment - at the beginning you may think: "How should I take care of everything at the same time?" Everything is a question of practice. Soon the combination of movement and breath will feel natural to you and you will flow through your sun salutations without thinking much about it. Being completely in flow is what I love about Vinyasa Yoga.
Who is Vinyasa Yoga for?
As I said, Vinyasa Yoga can be more or less “spiritually oriented”. The best way to find out what you prefer is to test it. But basically this style is suitable for everyone who:
- really sweat during yoga and sometimes want to laugh out loud from exertion
- want to learn to breathe deeply (wonderfully transferable to life beyond the mat!)
- have a desire for a creative, dancing practice
- like to let off steam and switch off at the same time
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