What is Vinyasa Yoga?
Vinyasa Yoga is an ancient practice of physical and spiritual development. It is a systematic method to study, practice, teach, and adapt yoga. This vinyasa flow (movement and sequence methodology) approach to yogasana (yoga posture) practice is unique in all of yoga. By integrating the functions of mind, body, and breath in the same time frame, a practitioner will experience the real joy of yoga practice. Each of the important postures (asanas) is practiced with many elaborate vinyasas (variations and movements). Each variation is linked to the next one by a succession of specific transitional movements, synchronized with the breath. The mind closely follows the slow, smooth, deliberate ujjayi yogic breathing; and the yoking of the mind and body takes place with the breath acting as the harness.
Vinyasa flow is the unique linking of one asana to the next in a serpentine flow. It is more than a simple set of physical maneuvers. It is a dynamic marriage of our internal and external worlds. Vinyasa yoga is an outward expression of the subtle movement of life force. It is a manifestation of prana. Vinyasa flow orchestrates balance. A balance of strength and flexibility, lightness and heaviness, movement and stillness. Through vinyasa one may know the vibration of life. This integration manifests when the act of breathing and movement cease to be separate entities. The two actions converge to create a symphony of seamless unity. Each action encourages the other. They exist as one. The mind is then set free and the practice may become a rhythmic dance.
What are the parameters for Vinyasa Yoga?
STEADINESS (STHIRA): For a posture to qualify as a yogasana, it should afford the practitioner the ability to remain steady in that posture, be it standing on his or her feet (tadasana/mountain pose) or standing on his or her head (sirsasana/headstand).
COMFORT (SUKHA): The use of breath and the close attention of the mind to the breath, which are the hallmarks of yoga, ensure that there are considerable joy and relaxation for the practitioner.
SMOOTH AND LONG BREATHING (PRAYATNA SITHILA): This is the method prescribed by Patanjali to facilitate yoga practice. Prayatna (effort) here refers to jivana prayatna, or the effort of life, which, as you can guess, is breathing. This condition stipulates that while practicing asanas, the breath should be smooth and long.
BREATH RATE IN VINYASA YOGA PRACTICE: During the practice of vinyasa yoga one should perform ujjayi, or throat, breathing because ujjayi facilitates the unaided control of breathing, which is necessary.
BREATH (ANANTA SAMAPATTI): The Sanskrit word ana means breath (ana is the equivalent of swasa, a well-known Sanskrit word that also means breath). Samapatti is total mental concentration. One should focus mentally on the breath during vinyasa yoga practice. Every time one’s mind wanders, one should gently coax it back to concentrating on the breath.
Practical Way To Understand Vinyasa Yoga
To understand vinyasa yoga we must start with the gross aspects and through refinement, we may gain knowledge of its subtleties.
Vinyasa begins with an understanding of the physical set of movements prescribed as links between asanas.
Through repetition, this action becomes familiar to the body on a cellular level.
Vinyasa yoga assists in creating heat which allows more freedom of exploration within the asanas. It also brings the body back to a neutral position between postures. Vinyasa is like an “etch-a-sketch”.
After exiting from one asana, the body’s screen is cleared and prepared for entry into the next. Without linking this movement with breath, the action remains within the physical realm.
There is joy in developing our physical bodies, yet to discover vinyasa yoga’s magic we must explore the breath simultaneously.
When this marriage is successfully achieved, the action becomes one of spirit and the physical practice acts as a conduit for a deeper exploration of our core identity.
For example at the end of the standing sequence of ashtanga vinyasa flow, the sequence has inserted a section called. “Applying the Physics of Flight” This is a detailed description of the dynamics required for transporting ourselves from Downward Dog into a seated position. After Paschimottanasana C has included a section entitled “Dancing With Prana”. It encompasses a description of the first jumping-back vinyasa from a seated position. Each section will give a variety of vinyasa options to choose from. Utilize the one which most suits your needs. Enjoy the flow and keep your breath full.
What’s after Vinyasa Yoga?
Many people are happy with the vinyasa flow asana practice. But even the creator of hatha yoga, Svatmarama, says that his hatha yoga should be considered a stepping stone to sublime raja yoga, or the yoga of light or enlightenment. So, internal practices could be the logical next step in the yogi’s spiritual progress. Mantra chants, a meditation on mantras or sublime thoughts, and study and contemplation on spiritual thoughts as contained in texts like the Yoga Sutras will be the next step.
One can never get bored with yoga. It is so versatile, so complete. It deals with how to help your body, how to help your mind find happiness and transform itself, to know and understand what “is ” and so to know what should be called the Self. The whole philosophy and practice of yoga is developed for the good of every individual so that he or she can find the Self individually, and thereby divine the undercurrent of happiness in all life.