Introduction to Vinyasa Yoga - Vinyasatreats
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Introduction to Vinyasa Yoga

 From the Sanskrit “to place in a special way,” vinyasa aligns a deliberate sequence of poses with the breath to achieve a continuous flow.

Inhalation is usually connected to upward, open movements, while exhalation is often tied to downward movements or twists.

 Vinyasa Krama

Vinyasa Krama represents every detail of the full cycle; the breath and movement as well as the energy, transitions, the base of each Asana, the fluidity within them, and the movement out of the pose to create a transition for the next one. It’s an intelligent, interwoven cycle where everything is interconnected.

What Is Vinyasa Yoga? 

Vinyasa stands in opposition to hatha. Hatha classes focus on one pose at a time, with rest in between. In contrast, flow classes string poses together to make a sequence.

Vinyasa yoga is an incredibly popular style of yoga in the western world. Go to any of your local studios, and chances are they’ll have at least a handful of Vinyasa classes on the schedule. So why is Vinyasa such a sought after class? The top reason is likely that Vinyasa speaks to the person who is looking for both a physical challenge and a spiritual and mental practice. The flowing style of movement and challenging postures in Vinyasa yoga classes help practitioners work the entire body, working on strength, stamina, and flexibility. At the same time, the postures and emphasis on breath allows students to tune in and find a deep connection to themselves and the practice.

Vinyasa is an all-encompassing style, allowing students to turn inwards, focus on their body and breath, push their physical limits, and really connect to the present moment. If you are interested in learning more about this ubiquitous style of yoga, this article will help you get a deeper understanding of the specific practice.

What Does Vinyasa Mean?

In Sanskrit, vinyasa translates to “to place in a special way.” This implies that, in Vinyasa yoga, we are moving our bodies in a conscious, mindful manner, rather than simply moving without purpose.

Vinyasa can be used in a few different contexts in the yoga world, so it can be a bit confusing to yoga practitioners. Most often, however, it is used to label a specific style of yoga. It also can describe a specific sequence of postures.

Vinyasa often refers to a style of flow-centered yoga, in which practitioners move fluidly through different postures by connecting breath to movement. In this style, students will connect one inhale or exhale with one movement. Typically, the inhales are connected to upward movements, while the exhales are connected to downward movements or twists.

While this breath to movement component is most often associated with Vinyasa yoga, many consider this breath connection to be vital to any yoga practice, as it allows for a deeper inward connection and more mindful movement.

When a teacher cues a vinyasa, they are referring to a certain sequence of movements. This sequence requires moving from Plank Pose to Four Limbed Staff Pose to Upward Facing Dog to Downward Facing Dog. If you take a Vinyasa class or any flow style class, it is highly likely that you will practice this sequence at least a handful of times within the session.

History of Vinyasa Yoga

We can find links to Vinyasa yoga as far back as 1500 BC. In the Vedas, there are mentions of connecting conscious breathing to movement. Around 300-400 BC, in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, we again see the connection between breathing (pranayama), postures (asanas), and the other eight limbs of yoga.

The Vinyasa yoga practice as we see it today has roots in Ashtanga yoga, but is much looser that its very structured predecessor.

What to Expect in a Vinyasa Yoga Class

What to Expect in a Vinyasa Yoga Class

More often than not, a Vinyasa class will begin with gentler poses to warm up the body. From there, the teacher will guide students into more challenging sequences, which may include balancing postures or inversions. Typically, a class will be created around working towards a peak pose. After reaching the peak pose, you can expect to cool down with gentler sitting stretches, and finally a savasana.