A Quick Guide to Vinyasa Yoga

A few things you should know about Vinyasa yoga before you try it…

This month’s featured yoga type is Vinyasa – sometimes known as “flow yoga,” or “power yoga.” Like Hatha yoga, which we discussed last month, Vinyasa is a very popular style of yoga in the West, and you are probably already familiar with the Vinyasa yoga style if you have taken many yoga classes. However, you may not be quite as familiar with what Vinyasa really means, or what differentiates it from other types of yoga.

What Makes Vinyasa Different?

The term Vinyasa itself in Sanskrit means “connection,” an appropriate description due to the inter-relationship between its physical movements and breath. Also called Flow Yoga, this style of yoga may be slightly different from other styles because of the smooth transition from one pose to the next through a series of transitional poses – similar to a choreographed dance. In a Vinyasa class, your instructor will signal the transition from one pose to the next timed on an inhale or exhale of breath through the nose. Some poses however, are held for a number of complete breathes before moving to the next pose. It is the timing that creates a smooth flow to the routine. Many Vinyasa routines are heavily based on Sun Salutation poses.

As with other forms of yoga, Vinyasa is suitable for various levels of expertise, and you should start with a beginner class to familiarize yourself with the poses before moving on to a more advanced class – even if you are already fairly athletic.

Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga

Besides connecting posture, mental energy and spiritual energy together, this style of yoga produces an internal heat from its steady and continuous movement. This heat is thought to help the body detoxify, and Vinyasa yoga is also known to improve your cardiovascular and respiratory systems (through deep breathing techniques), build muscle strength, increase bone density, reduce stress and improve sleep. It may also help to reduce your risk of injury through strengthening functional muscles, joints, and tendons throughout the body.

Finding a Class You Like

Due to the flexibility of the Vinyasa routine, each instructor may have his or her own twist to their yoga class. Some instructors may incorporate music, chanting or meditation into their classes, while others may simply treat it as a workout. If your first class choice does not meet your expectations, try a Vinyasa class with a different instructor. Keep trying until you find one you like. Classes normally last from 60 to 90 minutes and make a good precursor to Ashtanga yoga. There are also numerous Vinyasa yoga DVDs available for home use which are quite affordable.

While Vinyasa yoga may not always be the first choice for those new to yoga, if you like a something that is a little unpredictable and that keeps you moving the whole time, this style may be the one for you.

Take our yoga quiz to find out what your favorite type of yoga is likely to be!


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