What is Vinyasa Yoga?

By Michael Quesada October 27, 2018

What is Vinyasa Yoga?

What is Vinyasa Yoga?

When you go into a yoga studio, you’ll probably find different types of yoga indicated in the class schedule and one of the most popular types out there is Vinyasa Yoga.  This is a favorite contemporary yoga for many yogis because of compared to other types, it is seen as more creative and free flowing.

To give you an idea about Vinyasa Yoga, here are the basics.

What does Vinyasa mean? 

The term Vinyasa is derived from the Sanskrit word nyasa, the meaning of which is “to place”, while vi is a prefix that means “in a special way”.  The term Vinyasa can then be translated to mean “to arrange something in a special way”.

What is Vinyasa Yoga?

What is the basic idea of Vinyasa Yoga?

From the term Vinyasa, Vinyasa Yoga can then refer to the arrangement or placing of yoga poses or asanas in a special way.  Vinyasa Yoga is also sometimes referred to as Flow Yoga because the poses run and transition in a smooth, flowing way.

The flowing sequence of specific poses in Vinyasa Yoga are coordinated with the movements of the breath.  What this means is that one pose is connected to the next one using the breath.  The focus is on the flow of the movement rather than on individual yoga poses.  In other yoga types, a yogi engage on a specific pose, holds it for some time and breaks from the pose to start another one.

There are now different yoga styles that actually fall under the Vinyasa Yoga category including Power Yoga, Flow Yoga, Anusara, Jivamukti, Prana Flow and Hot Vinyasa.

Where did Vinyasa Yoga originate?

Vinyasa Yoga was said to be developed as a derivative of the more methodical Ashtanga Yoga.  Ashtanga Yoga is a dynamic style of yoga which was developed by Sri Krishnamacharya who is said to have taught it to Pattabhi Jois, often credited as the founder of Ashtanga Yoga.  It was supposed to serve as a moving meditation technique that focuses on deepening concentration and body consciousness through the entire practice.

What is Vinyasa Yoga?

How is Vinyasa Yoga different from other yoga forms?

Vinyasa Yoga is a more dynamic and exploratory type of yoga that focuses on the connection of one movement to the next rather than one specific pose.  It is often said to be the opposite of Hatha Yoga which tends to focus on an individual pose at a time, having a rest in between.  Vinyasa Yoga on the other hand, flow poses together in order to create a sequence.

The flowing movement makes it similar to Ashtanga Yoga but it does not need to follow Ashtanga’s precise set of rules and strict structure.  In Ashtanga Yoga, the poses need to be performed in exactly the same sequence and students cannot move into the next series of poses without mastering the current pose.  In Vinyasa Yoga, these rules can be broken as the instructor can use different poses from different Ashtanga series.  A person attending a Vinyasa Yoga class can experience an entirely different class each time.

Is Vinyasa Yoga hard?

Vinyasa Yoga is usually said to be a practice that can be performed by yogis of all ages and abilities, however, a working knowledge of more basic yoga practices can make it easier for students.

It is recommended that students of Vinyasa Yoga have a background of yoga such as Bikram or Hatha Yoga.  Hatha Yoga is usually ideal for beginners because of the slow and gentle pace.  This allows students to master the individual poses and hold the pose through several breaths.

What is Vinyasa Yoga?

Vinyasa Yoga is more advanced because students take only one breath for each pose and have to smoothly flow into the next pose to complete the sequence properly.  The quick pace also makes it more physically demanding than Hatha Yoga.

If you’ve never done any yoga before and are not familiar with any yoga poses, you might find Vinyasa Yoga a little overwhelming especially if you are attending a group class.  If you are practicing solo with video instruction, it may be easier to slow things down at the starts, and speed up your pace gradually.

What is the Main Purpose of Vinyasa Yoga?

Internal cleansing is said to be the purpose of Vinyasa Yoga.  As you synchronize the poses with your breathing control, your body’s internal temperature rises, which can subsequently improve circulation creating an overall healthier body.

The quick pace and the flowing movements of Vinyasa Yoga are also said to help work the cardiovascular system.

What type of breathing is practiced in Vinyasa Yoga?

In Vinyasa Yoga, the breath acts as the link when you move from one pose to the next, making each movement synchronized to a breath.  You only inhale and exhale once at every pose.

What is Vinyasa Yoga?

Can I lose weight practicing Vinyasa Yoga?

The yoga practice is not usually perceived as a weight loss exercise, however, it may surprise you to find out that 60 minutes of Vinyasa Yoga can allow you to lose 400 up to 594 calories!  This is three times more calories lost than practicing Hatha Yoga where you only lose around 189 calories in 60 minutes.  This is because of the fast-paced dynamic series of movements required in practicing Vinyasa Yoga.

What are the benefits of Vinyasa Yoga?

As mentioned, Vinyasa Yoga has cardiovascular, circulatory and calorie-burning benefits.  But one important benefit of Vinyasa Yoga is how it can increase mobility and range of movement.  A lot of people lead sedentary lifestyles like sitting in front of their office computers for 8 to 10 hours a day.  This can result to stiff and tight muscles.

Practicing Vinyasa Yoga is a great way to move your entire body as well as gently stretch your muscles.  Because your breath is synchronized with the poses, this brings fresh oxygen to your muscles and loosens them up.  It also helps you become more flexible as you move from one pose to the next.  Increasing your mobility and flexibility can help in preventing pain, injuries and muscle stiffness.

Vinyasa Yoga can also help in relieving anxiety and stress.  As it is referred to as moving meditation, it helps you focus on the present as you concentrate on your breathing and flow of movement.

Going with the Flow

Vinyasa Yoga is a great yoga practice especially for people who prefer a low-impact exercise, but still want to maximize movement and calorie burn.  Plus, just going with the flow can calm you down and provide a positive impact to your overall wellbeing.

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What is Vinyasa Yoga?

Michael Quesada

Founder of this website; currently living vicariously through himself.

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