What is Vinyasa Yoga?

Vinyasa Yoga, going with the flow

You’ve heard of Ashtanga yoga and Bikram yoga. What exactly is Vinyasa yoga?

The word ‘vinyasa’ means ‘variation within parameters.’ It comes from a combination of the Sanskrit words ‘nyasa’ which means ‘to place,’ and ‘vi,’ which means ‘in a special way.’

In its original context in the Tantras, the word ‘vinyasa’ would also mean ‘sequence of consciousness,’ referring to the unfolding of life from the creative pulse of life.

Vinyasa yoga is a style of yoga that uses posture and breathing techniques in a faster-paced, flowing sequence. It’s also called ‘flow yoga,’ since you move seamlessly from one asana to another. If you love the idea of free-flowing yoga classes, Vinyasa is the discipline for you, since no two classes are alike. You won’t find the structure of an Ashtanga or Bikram yoga class here.

T. Krishnamacharya, an ayurvedic healer and yoga teacher developed the practice of Vinyasa yoga, a more modern style.

In a Vinyasa yoga class, you will be literally going with the flow, sometimes at a faster pace; at other times with a smoother, slower movement. Instructors will vary the sequence of asanas, so you will never have a set sequence. This keeps you focused. The continuous movement is a great way to improve your level of fitness.

In Vinyasa yoga transitions connect one asana with another. The transition is also considered an asana, not just the connection point between two postures. What you will be doing is moving from one asana to another according to the flow of the inhalation and exhalation of your breath, in harmony with your heartbeat. Ujjayi breath is used in Vinyasa yoga. This is an ancient yoga breathing technique, also known as ‘victorious breath.’ The ujjayi breathing technique has been in use for thousands of years in hatha yoga. It is also called ‘ocean breath.’ It detoxifies the body, releases stress, increases energy and regulates blood pressure.

Vinyasa is ideal for someone who is learning yoga for the first time. Vinyasa yoga improves flexibility, increases muscle strength and fitness.  It may push you to your limits, since it incorporates elements from different styles of yoga.

Vinyasa yoga also increases your focus, since it is all about achieving a balance between body, mind and spirit. It energizes the body and increases serenity.

Physically a 150 pound woman will burn 415 calories in one 45 minute Vinyasa yoga session. That’s way more than the 334 calories you’ll burn during a jogging session, or the 214 calories doing jumping jacks for the same amount of time.

The healthful benefits of yoga have been known for centuries. It can relieve symptoms of stress, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression. It can also reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches. It increases the flow of oxygen in the blood and creates a sense of well-being.

With all these benefits, it’s definitely worth your while to check out the Vinyasa yoga classes and instructors in your area.

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