New to yoga and don't have a clue what's going? Been practicing a while but don't know what the word means? Trying to get comfortable with your vinyasa for years but it's just not happening? Breathe. It's gonna be okay we're gonna start at the basics and shine a little light on the 'why's the yoga teacher make it look so easy?' vinyasa.
Vinyasa comes from two words in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit: vi which translates to “in a special way,” and nyasa, which translates to “to place.” Put it together, it means that we want to place our movements in a special, careful, intentional way. I'll break down this movements later but what is important to remember that you are moving in a way that is:
Special- this is yours! Make it yours and know you don't have to look like anyone else
Careful - if you don't have the energy, strength or something doesn't feel right DON'T do it!
Intentional - don't forget about the breath and try to not rush ahead. Be present
Okay so now let's look at these 'special' movements needed to create the flow of a vinyasa.
These poses are linked together with flowing movement and breath. There are modifications to each of the postures to cater to any limitations or injuries their students may have. The most important thing to remember is to keep your body safe, so instead of pushing to stay with the rest of the class, back off or simplify if needed. If you can keep the ego at bay then your yoga practice will last you into your older years.
There are many reasons to do a Vinyasa and when you practice yoga you should spend time reflecting and what you think the reasons, specifically, to you could be! In the yoga class the vinyasa is used to link the two sides of the flow together. It can be used as a reset and checkpoint before moving onto the left or right side. It is a great way to build up cardio and stamina, strength and endurance, body awareness and acceptance.
In the class the teacher will do a set number of poses on one side and then move into the Vinyasa before the next, this vinyasa clears the slate and brings the body back to equilibrium. This gives your mind and muscles time to absorb the information and benefits of the first side before moving onto the next. These postures are linked together in a flowing motion and are used to keep the body warm and avoid injury. This protects the muscles and ligaments and makes it easier to breathe more expansively and fully. Depending on how you're feeling if you notice your energy start to dip you will want to modify these poses and skip out the vinyasa entirely.
Focus – While in a vinyasa flow class you are not only focusing on the physical postures the teacher is leading you through but you're also staying tuned into the breath. Tuning into the sound and pace of the breath focuses the mind, it sets the metronome for your practice. A pendulum that keeps the body, mind and breath moving.
Strength – A full vinyasa (chaturagna) isn't easy. It took me 2 years to get entirely comfortable with a vinyasa and I am always still learning new ways to move and breath. You develop strength in the triceps, core, back and legs. This will increase your physical strength, endurance and ability.
Flexibility – When you move through a vinyasa you are stretching a series of muscles including the hamstrings, back, pecks, biceps and neck. The vinyasa will get you moving, stretching and elongating your muscles, improving your mobility. This physical yoga practice makes space in the body leaving you feeling much more open and supple.
Stress Relief – If you are focused on your movement and breath the mind is suddenly not worrying about whatever happened earlier in the day at work or an argument you may have had with your partner last night. You connect to the body, breath and mind and therefore stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system that helps with resting and digesting! The practice becomes a moving meditation. This allows you to forget about everything else that’s going on around you and just focus on your practice, it quietens the mind and softens the body leaving you feeling de-stressed.
Who is it for? Everyone. As long as you have the mobility to carry your weight in your hands we can start to modify the vinyasa and make it accessible. If you want a workout, whilst also increasing your strength and flexibility, if you want to relieve stress, or if you want to challenge yourself physically then go to a Vinyasa flow class!
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
I will be hosting a 60 minute Vinyasa Flow breakdown on Saturday May 23rd at 12pm click HERE to book. This will be available 24 hours later on my website to download and practice whenever and as often as you like. Make sure to follow my YouTube page for upcoming posture clinics where I will make sure you feel totally empowered with each step of the vinyasa!