Vinyasa Flow Yoga:
Vinyasa is a Sanskrit term which has multiple meanings. Its literal translation “positioning in a special way”. Think of it as a way of moving the body that is, purposeful. Vinyasa yoga (Vinyasa Flow Yoga) also pays close attention to breath.
In the same way Vinyasa yoga has multiple meanings it also encompasses different “types” of yoga. This includes Ashtanga, Baptiste, Power yoga and a few others.
As an element of flow yoga practice, vinyasa is a sequence of breath-coordinated movements that help transition from one position to the next, seamlessly. In addition, the movements are conducted during inhalation or exhalation, specifically.
Vinyasa is also the name of a particular style of modern yoga, Flow yoga – movement and breath connected in a flow. Vinyasa is a form of dynamic yoga, which instead of having the positions performed in a simple succession, connects them in a flow. These transitions are precise movements that close and open the asanas appropriately. Simultaneously, care is given to each movement as the practitioner flows into the next.
Why Is Vinyasa Flow A Popular Choice?
One of the most beneficial aspects to Vinyasa yoga is it’s variety. Oftentimes, it’s dependent upon the “Master” or Instructor to come-up with a sequence or flow of asanas. There is not one sequence that it entails, unlike practices such as Ashtanga yoga.
For example, a class may focus on a specific type of “back-bend” maneuvers or a particular theme. In time, the instructors may actually build upon a previous classes sequence or asanas to make it more challenging or simply to change-up the routine slightly. Thus, these classes for many, are exciting, and offer a change of pace each time.
In addition, classes could focus on building strength. Alternatively, the sequences may focus on flexibility. Consequently, the flow could be a faster pace or slightly slower one.
Secondly, there is something for everyone. Vinyasa yoga can be tailored to the most beginner yogi, all the way to the most experienced. Meaning the classes can be modified to meet your specific goals in mind.
Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga:
As we touched upon above, the benefits of Vinyasa yoga are vast. Oftentimes, dependent upon the type of class you engage in. For the purpose of today’s discussion, we’ll discuss some more general benefits.
Improves Strength & Flexibility:
The sequence of energetic movements allow you to acquire strength, flexibility and agility. Oftentimes, incorporating smaller stabilizer muscles neglected in many standard weight training programs. Thus, can result in improved strength, even balance.
The emphasis on breathing can aid in improving balance, during twisting, bending. and isometric poses.
In general, yoga can have a tremendously positive effect on core strength. This can be attributed to the constant engagement of the core in the variety of balance, twisting and bending motions. In addition, yoga has been suggested to help improve flexibility and range of motion if done on a consistent basis.
Did you know, that studies have shown that runners and yogi’s show similar cardiovascular profiles. Specifically, sequences (like Sun Salutations) can increase your heart rate into that “cardiovascular endurance zone”.
Styles such as Hatha or restorative yoga may not offer that same pace, but Vinyasa yoga sure can. Due to the flowing nature of poses, Vinyasa elevates the heart rate, and keeps it elevated.
The positive influence of Vinyasa yoga doesn’t simply end on the physical level. The sense of relaxation and inner calm transmitted by the practice, may influence the psychological self. Yoga can be used as a channel for helping reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Whether that be stress associated with work, or effects of being a college student, literature suggests, yoga can help.
Evidence even suggests the ability to help with sleep disorders, such as insomnia.
Vinyasa Yoga Poses:
Vinyasa Flow incorporates many different poses. Oftentimes, themes are identified for specific classes. Thus, certain classes may be structured around a type of maneuver. Whether that be focusing on backbends, forward-bends, or specific to improving strength.
What follows are general poses. Oftentimes, these poses are incorporated into a Vinyasa class.
Cat Pose (Marjariasana):
- Start on all fours. Knees overtop the ankles. Shoulders overtop the wrists;
- Knees hip-width apart;
- Exhale and slowly lower the chin towards the chest. Simultaneously, lift the middle back upwards;
- Contract the abdomen inward and push the tailbone down.
Cow Pose (Bitilasana):
- Inhale deeply, knees remain hip-width apart;
- Lower the abdomen, while lifting the tailbone with an upward gaze.
For (Cat/Cow), it is good to coordinate breath with the two positions: during the position of the cow, inhale; during the position of the cat, exhale.
Vinyasa Flow Yoga Sequence:
The sequential execution of the postures is another distinctive feature of flow yoga. Here the union of the asanas with each other is fundamental, thanks to transitional movements.
Let’s highlight 3 of these movements;
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana):
Remember in class, you’ll be creating a flow through these poses.
- This position somewhat mimics an inverted “V”. Start on all fours;
- Then, begin to lift the buttock/pelvis upward. Consequently, pushing upward through your feet and palms;
- Attempt to keep the back heels on the ground. Legs straight;
- Remember breath control;
- Stretch down through your arms with your torso.
Low Plank, Four Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Davanasana):
Now moving into Low plank.
- Continue by moving the torso forward, keeping the back and arms straight.
- Then, bend your elbows, with a slow movement, until touching the floor with your chest.
- Continuing to breathe. The position is held for a few moments prior to proceeding.
This is a fundamental position for the flow. However, can be quite complex to perform. If done incorrectly, it can irritate the wrists, and lower back.
Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana):
- From there the abdomen is facing the mat, legs positioned hip-width apart and the back of the foot facing the ground with the toes well extended.
- Then, with your hands placed below your shoulders and your elbows on your sides, slowly raise your chest and pelvis.
- Keep the shoulders straight and wide-open throughout the movement.
- Press upward threw your hands, helping stretch the back. Legs, hips should remain off the mat.
We started with Adho Mukha Svanasana. Then transitioned to Chaturanga Davanasana and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Finally, back to Adho Mukha Svanasana.
This is just the start of great things to come on your Vinyasa yoga journey.