What is vinyasa yoga, and what makes it quite popular? If you have been to vinyasa classes, you will be amazed at how many practitioners this yoga practice has. Vinyasa yoga attracts people of all ages and fitness levels to attend vinyasa flow classes.
Vinyasa yoga classes focus on synchronizing movements with breathing. You can attend vinyasa classes regardless of your fitness level. Your yoga instructor will design vinyasa yoga practices and a vinyasa flow yoga you can easily follow.
While vinyasa yoga is getting attention and followers, many people, even those practising yoga, are still unsure of what it entails. What’s with the Power Flow or a Slow Flow? How does it differ from hatha yoga, ashtanga vinyasa yoga, ashtanga vinyasa, or ashtanga yoga?
You will understand the answers to all these questions once you try attending a vinyasa practice.
Learning More About Vinyasa Yoga
To explain in brief, hatha yoga focuses on controlled breathing, stretching, and movements. This yoga practice is done at a slower pace. On the other hand, ashtanga yoga follows repetitive sequences of movements a yoga practitioner does every day.
In vinyasa yoga, the poses vary, but one thing remains the same: the focus on the breath. It is done at a faster pace than hatha yoga as it connects breathing with the yoga poses.
When the ideologies are combined, that’s when you get ashtanga vinyasa or hatha classes mixed with vinyasa yoga.
Since vinyasa focuses on flow and breathing, certain yoga classes, including Bikram yoga, are not ideal to be mixed with it. This yoga style is done in a hot room. However, you can still find a yoga instructor combining the two in their vinyasa classes. While it can be done, make sure you choose a qualified yoga teacher with experience in different yoga styles.
Important Reminders to Keep in Mind When Practising Vinyasa Yoga
The term vinyasa describes the “flow” or the sequences of dynamic yoga poses in each session. This flow makes you sweat while pumping up your heart rate. When done regularly, you will experience the many benefits of vinyasa flow. They include focus, calmness, stability, strength, and flexibility.
Here are the top things you need to know about the flowing sequence of the vinyasa poses:
It’s all about the breath.
In whatever style of yoga you learn, breath is always the focal point. This is quite true with vinyasa yoga, where breath links movement. Or each yoga movement has a linking breath to help you transition into the next movements.
In vinyasa yoga, breath serves as a link between your body and mind. You know you need to slow down when you start to hold your breath during difficult postures or when your breath becomes laborious and short.
When you lose control of your breathing, you will likely lose control of your body. You have to stop, or else it might result in harm. Your breath is crucial in vinyasa flow since it synchronizes with your movements. Your breath serves as a guide on how to do the yoga movements and poses as you proceed with the session.
You must align your body to each movement in the vinyasa flow.
Whether you’re a newbie practising vinyasa flow at your own pace or an experienced yogi who can do the flow at a fast-paced rate doesn’t matter. You must always be conscious of your body posture.
Maintaining good posture and alignment while dynamically doing the vinyasa yoga poses is as vital as maintaining good alignment while doing slow or static yoga poses. How come? This ensures your body won’t suffer injuries as you move from one pose to the next.
Vinyasa yoga is beginner-friendly, but you will do the different poses at a fast-paced rate once you have mastered the flow. Once you have levelled up with your vinyasa yoga practice, you will understand that it requires you to perform each asana more quickly than the other yoga styles. But just because something moves faster doesn’t mean you should move mindlessly. As yoga is a form of movement meditation, mindlessness is not allowed during a session.
It’s not necessary to move fast in every vinyasa yoga session.
After doing vinyasa yoga for some time (no matter how well you perform each asana), you will reach a point when your body has gotten so used to the flow. As a result, it will demand you take things slow, like how you started doing this style of yoga.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Consider this as a phase of your vinyasa yoga venture.
Like all other types of yoga, Vinyasa yoga calls for taking the time and consciousness to mindfully match the postures with our unique physicalities. As you accelerate your flow, the trick is learning to keep up with the pace.
But, there are moments when we benefit from slowing down. Sometimes moving slowly and carefully is better for our practice than moving quickly.
Go slow if you must.
Vinyasa teachers understand the needs of each student in their vinyasa classes. You won’t get sanctions, like longer downward dog, upward facing dog or more sun salutations if you show signs of slowing down.
The more important thing here is to listen to your body and go slow whenever you feel unsure of a yoga pose. For example, if you need to spend more time doing one pose, like a child’s pose, downward facing dog, upward facing dog, plank pose, chair pose, or corpse pose, then follow your guts and be still in the posture.
You are doing vinyasa yoga classes for your health and to boost your energy level. You can take your time transitioning to your next pose whenever unsure of a posture or a transition.
Vinyasa classes frequently move quickly but move slowly, mindfully, and with care when in doubt. Going slow and steadily will teach you far more than flowing fast and blindly.
You can rest and take your time.
This is why the flow in a vinyasa flow class includes resting yoga poses like a child’s pose. Like with all yoga styles, vinyasa is about honouring and respecting your body. So if something is too challenging, rest, unwind, and return to your breath.
Honouring your body and your breath is not wrong. Resting from a physical activity or physical practice or delaying the flow yoga for a while will boost your energy and prepare your body for the next yoga postures you need to do to finish the flow.
You will eventually find it easier to perform chaturanga.
Vinyasa classes are typically performed in a sequence consisting of a transitional flow. You may begin the yoga session with one pose, like a plank position, before performing the poses linked to the previous pose. You may be asked to transition into chaturanga before doing up-dog and downward-facing dog.
However, it takes time and lots of practice before you can reach the point when you can easily do the chaturanga transition. It’s extremely challenging but will eventually become nearly second nature as you develop the muscle power and body awareness needed to flow through this transformation.
But be careful not to move mindlessly or “auto-pilot” once you have mastered the vinyasa yoga transition. It’s better to move thoughtfully while paying attention to your breathing.
Vinyasa yoga’s magic lies in doing the transitions.
Vinyasa flow binds every pose together, just like in a dance. You must move to the beat without anyone telling you when to stop and go. This is why transitions make the vinyasa flow seems magical.
You experience the magic of vinyasa when you learn how to move and do the poses and transitions with finesse and ease. It becomes easier to transition from one pose to the next, no matter how challenging the next poses may be. Attending a vinyasa class becomes more magical when you learn how to connect your breath to each movement and transition.
Classes for vinyasa yoga vary depending on the yoga teacher
There are no two classes in Vinyasa that are completely similar. The same rule applies to other yoga classes, such as ashtanga yoga, power yoga, Baptiste yoga, and other styles of yoga.
The beauty of vinyasa flow is that it allows for such a unique and individual practice. How it is taught will depend on the teaching experience of the yoga teacher leading the vinyasa class.
While some teachers are rigorous and hold postures longer, others are equally tough and move constantly. Some yoga teachers also move slowly and gently, while others perform the flow in scripted and dance-like actions. Each practice is unique, just like the yoga teachers and yoga practitioners.
You can practice vinyasa yoga as a regular workout
The yoga system is far more than stretching or moving meditation. It depends on the yoga style you practice. Vinyasa flow has the potential to be vigorous, in contrast to other styles of yoga, which emphasize gradual movements and deep stretching.
Each vinyasa class session is equivalent to working out because it requires physical actions that make you sweat. It can be a good form of exercise that can make your muscles stronger and your body healthier.
Vinyasa classes allow creativity and innovation.
There is no fixed order, regulations, or guidelines in classes for vinyasa yoga. You will sometimes flow wildly with the music. But sometimes, you would want to go slow and gentle with the postures and transitions.
You are free to modify vinyasa poses. For example, one day, you will do heart-thumping poses, and in your next vinyasa class, you will prolong each movement and move gradually.
The yoga style will help enhance your focus and awareness as you continue doing vinyasa practice. You only need to find your rhythm to pick up your groove and learn how to move to the beat.
It’s like dancing; your breath will guide you on how to move through the yoga poses in a vinyasa flow. If you’re looking for a yoga studio to start or continue your vinyasa yoga practice, you can check one of Singapore’s finest, Sweatbox Yoga. It offers various yoga classes for all types of practitioners. Plus, it has all that you need to inspire you to stick to your chosen yoga practice.