The Intriguing Origin of Vinyasa: Vinyasa Yoga History - Sweatbox

Although most people equate yoga practice with a physical discipline including a succession of poses, the entire ideology entails an eight-pronged system to discovering your true self, with each element working together to enable people to accomplish what some regard as enlightenment.


Vinyasa yoga, which emphasises breathing as a catalyst for moving from one posture toward the next, is now one of the most popular approaches to customising your practice to meet specific needs.


As Vinyasa’s influence rose, more yoga teachers sought to develop the style to accommodate their students’ demands and their developing expertise of the discipline, resulting in various styles.


While Vinyasa has emerged from a variety of teaching traditions, it’s essential to study and trace the practice’s origins, for knowledge and understanding will be your constant companion in your everyday practice and far beyond.

Vinyasa Yoga Defined

Vinyasa is a Sanskrit word widely used to describe various types of modern yoga. Taking a closer look at the phrase Vinyasa, it can be implied that it has Sanskrit roots that represent its genuine meaning. The Sanskrit Nyasa means “to place, or to step,” and vi means “in a distinct or specific way.” Sanskrit words often have multiple connotations; therefore, the word Vinyasa has numerous interpretations as well.


Vinyasa yoga – a form of yoga that stresses the connection of breath and movement, generally through a steady flow from one asana (position) to another. Vinyasa is a practice that can be integrated into Ashtanga, Iyengar, and other forms of yoga and is often referred to as the “breathing system.”

The History of Vinyasa ”Flow”

Looking into the origin of Vinyasa, it can be implied that it is not a novel notion. In the lineage of Vinyasa yoga, referring to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, a form of yoga wherein the poses are purposefully tied together utilising breath, motion, and a concentrated mind. The hatha yoga practice is the foundation of this system.


Such yoga principles have their roots and are practised much farther back to 8000 BC. Here’s a peek back in time:

8000 BC


Identical depictions of the origins of Vinyasa yoga can be traced back to ancient Vedic texts thousands of years old. Four Vedas have been discovered: the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda, and the Atharva-Veda. There are references to a Vinyasa Yoga practice in two of these manuscripts. Surya Namaskara includes mindful breathing and movement descriptions and purported physical, mental, and spiritual gains.

300–400 BC


The invisible flow of energetic link between each of the distinct eight limbs of yoga is threaded throughout the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Considering each limb, or structured yoga principle, as a yoga posture, it can be perceived as an energetic flow interconnecting the base.


Professor Ernest Egerton Wood – a renowned yogi, theosophist, Sanskrit scholar, and author of various books. Of his several other accolades, Professor Wood taught Hatha yoga and Raja yoga approaches and frequently had used Vinyasa as a linkage to yoga and life.



Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya is inextricably linked to the Ashtanga Yoga tradition. Krishnamacharya was born into a period when yoga in India was fading away, much like the roots of many tales from yoga traditions.


Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya – widely regarded as the founder of modern yoga. During this year, he journeyed to the Himalayas to study yoga, from which he met Sri Ramamohan Brahmachari, his guru. 


In the length of seven and a half years he spent with Brahmachari, Krishnamacharya mastered the Ashtanga (Raja) Yoga system, commonly known as the Eight Limbs of Yoga.



This year, K. Pattabhi Jois met his mentor, Krishnamacharya, and spent over 25 years studying Ashtanga Yoga with him. 



In this year, Krishnamacharya started teaching yoga to numerous Indian and Western students in Mysore, India, and then in Madras, India. In Mysore, Krishnamacharya taught a wide range of Ashtanga Yoga practices and more conventional and unique styles. He modified his approach in Madras, eventually settling on Viniyoga.



The “Yoga Mala,” written by K. Pattabhi Jois, Krishnamacharya’s former disciple, is the heart of Ashtanga Yoga. The word mala signifies “garland.”


The book was first published in 1962 by one of his students, but the first English translation of the “Yoga Mala” was not produced until 1999 by Eddie Stern, Pattabhi Jois’ student.



André van Lysebeth, a Belgian yogi, was one of Pattabhi Jois’s earliest European students. He found his way into Pattabhi Jois’s little Yogashala in Mysore. He returned to Belgium and wrote “Pranayama”. Consequently, mainly European foreigners searched frantically out Jois, and Vinyasa quickly grew in popularity.



Norman Allen, David Williams, and Nancy Gilgoff were the first known Americans to train with Pattabhi Jois in India. Norman Allen the first American to be introduced to, and so disseminate, the principles of Vinyasa in 1973 when he took a seminar conducted by Jois.



T.K.V. Desikachar, Krishnamacharya’s son, was uninterested in yoga as a child. Yet he reverted to his origins in his 20s and studied with his father.


He gave his first talk in the United States in 1976, and he frequently returned after that, educating and speaking on his method to yoga and yogic healing. Yoga, according to Desikachar, should be adapted to the individual’s needs. He firmly believed that yoga might benefit everybody, regardless of their physical limitations.

The 21st Century Vinyasa Yoga


The modern yoga styles are a newer branch of Vinyasa yoga, and its creators have all studied with Pattabhi Jois. Prana Flow Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga, Power Yoga, Dynamic Yoga, and the more recent Vinyasa Yoga approaches are only a few modern yoga forms.


The founders of Yoga Works in Los Angeles, one of the country’s most prominent and influential yoga studios, also advocate Ashtanga and other Vinyasa practices. Vinyasa flow has evolved up to this day to incorporate practices that are suitable for teenagers, pregnant mothers, and physically impaired individuals.

Vinyasa Practice and Its Objective


Physically, breathing generates heat in the body and induces more sweating, which is believed to be purifying. Hence, as a student progresses from one pose to another, they are considered to have accomplished one “Vinyasa.”


Yoga practitioners may perform Vinyasa for a variety of purposes, including:


  • To raise one’s body temperature, engaging in a yoga process can achieve. It can also influence weight loss efforts with sweating.
  • To alter the energy pattern of the exercise for the student to thoroughly feel the energy of various asanas. Every asana is said to have its unique energy pattern. Several Vinyasas involve counterposes to the previous asana. In preparation for the next asana, the counterposes restore the energy of the body to its normal state.
  • To enhance one’s ability to focus and create internal consciousness, or mindfulness.
  • To heighten one’s awareness of the body and its sensations and thoughts within.
  • To help in the removal of impurities from the body. Vinyasa is supposed to raise the heat of the digestive process, cleanse the mind of distracting ideas, and expedite the body’s waste disposal in the ashtanga discipline.

Rediscover Vinyasa With Sweatbox Yoga


Every move in Vinyasa flow is distinctive, harkening back to its origins. Transitioning from one life circumstance towards the next, Vinyasa doubles as a reflection of our own lives. Flowing from one pose to another emphasises the fleeting nature of things and that now is the only time to have this experience.


As you go, the poses will be more challenging, but the crucial bit is that it will assist in building and restructuring your body. The more sequences you complete, the closer you come to fitness. 


Vinyasa classes are available in several yoga studios in Singapore. Sweatbox Yoga Bukit Timah, on the other hand,  promises an unparalleled experience leaving you renewed and energised!

About the Author​

Lynette is fully dedicated to the support and empowerment of the growing community of committed yoga students and teachers. As one of the Lead Instructors for Yoga Teacher Training, she is here to share tips on how to grow your profile as a yoga teacher or build a yoga business either physically or digitally.