Vinyasa yoga is one of the most popular styles of yoga in the western world and most studios have at least one vinyasa class on their timetable. But what is it? What distinguishes it from other types of yoga?
Essentially Vinyasa yoga is a style of yoga where the poses are linked to one another. It is a style of yoga where we flow from one pose to another. Hence why it is sometimes referred to as ‘flow yoga’ or ‘vinyasa flow’. For example, we may move from downward-facing dog to a lunge to warrior 2 in a seamless movement. You can flow at different speeds; you can change the sequence, you can make it stretchy, you can make it strong, but the foundation principle remains the same, vinyasa yoga is where the poses are linked together into a fluid movement.
Vinyasa yoga also has another element that often defines it, and that is the breath. When I introduce a vinyasa class I often say ‘we move with the breath’. This simply means we synchronise our breath with the movement, most often syncing an exhale or inhale with a transition. There are many reasons for doing this, firstly, we are reminded to breathe as we move, which stops us from unintentionally holding our breath. As we move this breathing becomes more natural and we receive the benefits of breathing. Breathing helps us relax and encourages our bodies to slow down as well as helping us remain focused even in more physically demanding sequences.
The mind becomes still as the body moves.
Vinyasa yoga will always be my favourite style of yoga because I love the creativity of it. I love finding new ways to connect poses, new ways to explore the movement of my body, and new ways to flow. What I also find so beneficial about vinyasa yoga is the presence that it brings. When you are flowing, breathing and moving the mind becomes present and all else slides away. The mind becomes still as the body moves.
I have been practising vinyasa yoga for about 5 years and I am now confident enough to step onto my mat and move as my body asks without a plan or agenda. I can follow a vinyasa class without worrying about where I am going next and what breath I should be on, but, things were different when I first started vinyasa yoga. It can be a very challenging style of yoga to start because it is very easy to lose the flow and get lost if you don’t know the poses, cues or teacher. I remember the first time I did sun salutations I was completely lost, out of sync and confused. It takes time, and truthfully may not be a style for everyone, but when you first find yourself flowing in the present moment, you will never look back. You will realise why it is such a popular style.
Vinyasa yoga can also be challenging because of the physical demands on the body. As we move a little faster than in other yoga practices the joints need a certain level of mobility. HOWEVER…….this doesn’t mean you can’t start with vinyasa yoga, you can gain this mobility and muscle memory during vinyasa classes. If your teacher offers adaptions and explains transitions, or you head to a beginners vinyasa yoga then there is no reason that you can’t do vinyasa yoga even if you are new to yoga. If you are quite new to yoga or vinyasa yoga and want to get to grips with vinyasa yoga check out my YouTube beginners vinyasa class here.
So, simply put vinyasa yoga is a yoga style where we move with our breath and link poses together to create a flow
Vinyasa yoga is not the only style of yoga that there is, but it is one of the most popular, which I am happy about, but I may be bias! However if you find the flow of vinyasa yoga too much but enjoy moving and enjoy the poses when you get there, maybe try hatha yoga, or make sure the vinyasa class you attend is suitable for beginners. There are so many styles of yoga out there and so many teachers, sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find your perfect teacher.