We will end our yoga series, devoted to helping you find your best yoga practice, with probably the style who’s name alone is as ubiquitous to yoga as Hatha - vinyasa. Vinyasa seems to be a catch all phrase used to describe any fast moving yoga class, but it’s so much more. It’s also often coined Flow Yoga. The word Vinyasa means poses done in a sequential order (flowing) synchronized with the breath. Several of the styles I’ve written about in this series: Ashtanga, Anusara, Jivamukti, Power Yoga are all types of Vinyasa based practice. When I teach class, I always tell my students that sun salutation in the ultimate vinyasa as you’re connecting breath to each movement in the series, i.e. raising the arms on an inhale, folding over on an exhale, lifting to flat back on an inhale, etc. The challenge with a Vinyasa class that’s not linked to a style - like those mentioned above - is finding a flow that’s right for you!
What is the style/class like?
When you see a Vinyasa class on a schedule, expect movement. Many of you who read me, know I come out of the Iyengar tradition which is more alignment based and the poses are held for longer periods of time. This is not the case in Vinyasa. In some advanced Vinyasa classes, I did not stop for an hour or until we got to savasana. The class will take you from pose to pose while linking breath to each movement in a dance like manner. The student will easily flow from Warrior I to Warrior 2 to perhaps trikonasana. The cool down can be stretches and restorative until full rest.
Personal insight and who might benefit from this style:
I’ve never really been a big fan of a straight Vinyasa class. Even for me who knows many, many poses, I find myself having to look around to see how a sequencing would look. Unless you stick with a teacher and get used to their routine, this is what I found problematic. I like to really work slowly and deeply on one pose which is really the antithesis of Vinyasa. However, people who are looking for a flowy class, and like the movement and energy of vinyasa, it’s a great place to practice, just make sure you know your moves or start with a beginning level class. And for now my sun salutation is my vinyasa of choice.
Even though this style is not where I immediately flock, vinyasa is so diverse and such a wide ranging style, that I wanted to close this piece and this series with grace and beauty. To truly describe vinyasa in its most profound and true sense, I found a wonderful piece by the great yogini Shiva Rea, the creator of Prana Flow, entitled “Consciousness in Movement”. This piece sums up the style in a way that is moving, clear and profound.
Seane Corn is another amazing woman and leader in vinyasa flow yoga and within the yoga community at large.