Vinyasa yoga is an extremely popular practice right now, with studios offering it popping up all over the place. But what exactly is Vinyasa yoga? How does it differ from other types of yoga? And how can you begin practicing it at home? Vinyasa Yoga is a dynamic and challenging style of yoga that involves synchronizing your breath with fluid movements and poses. It’s an intense cardio workout that elevates your heart rate while stretching, strengthening, and toning your body in new ways. There are many different kinds of Vinyasa-based practices out there — not just the sweaty hot kind you may be imagining. In this article we’ll take a deeper look at what makes Vinyasa different from other styles, outlining some beginner-friendly variations as well as more advanced alternatives.
What is Vinyasa Yoga?
Vinyasa means “connection” or “flow” in Sanskrit, and a Vinyasa-based yoga practice is all about linking movement with breath — synchronizing these two aspects of the yoga experience to create a focused mind-body state. Vinyasa yoga is a more active and challenging type of yoga, but the “flow” aspect of the practice (the linking of breath and movement) is consistent across all yoga styles. It’s the first step in any yoga sequence, and can be thought of as the “crossover” between your asana (pose) and your pranayama (breathing) practice — the two cornerstones of yoga as a whole.
Vinyasa vs. Hatha vs. Ashtanga
These are the three most common types of yoga that you’ll find in studios around the world. Hatha yoga is a general term for the practice of yoga on the whole. Ashtanga yoga is a very specific type of Hatha-based yoga that involves a strict sequence (or “path”) of postures. Vinyasa yoga is another form of Hatha-based yoga that uses Vinyasa sequencing, often in a more dynamic and challenging way. Vinyasa yoga is its form of yoga, but it’s more closely related to Hatha yoga than Ashtanga. As Vinyasa yoga is also Hatha-based, it shares many of the same benefits as Hatha yoga — strengthening, stretching, and calming the nervous system, among others. However, Vinyasa is also a more active practice than Hatha, with a much higher potential for challenge.
The 3 Basic Steps of Vinyasa Yoga
There are three basic steps in every Vinyasa sequence: the movement phase, the breath-synchronization phase, and the resting phase. These three steps are present in every sequence, regardless of the style of yoga you choose to do. During the movement phase, you’ll flow through a series of postures while linking your breath with the movement. Your body should be moving slowly and calmly but at a steady pace. Your sequence will end when you’ve moved through a complete cycle — at this point, you’ll switch to the resting phase and slow down even more. During the resting phase, you’ll hold each posture for a longer amount of time. You’ll be using the time to focus on your breath and soak up the benefits of the posture.
Vinyasa yoga is a powerful and challenging style of yoga that follows a Vinyasa sequencing pattern and links breath with movement. It’s a great option for those looking to build strength, flexibility, and focus. Despite the intensity of the practice, Vinyasa is accessible to beginners who are willing to put in the necessary time and effort. To get the most out of Vinyasa, it’s essential to practice with proper alignment, use a full range of motion, and challenge your body beyond what feels familiar.
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