yoga’s harmonious flow
Vinyasa yoga practice is an orchestration of actions done in a harmonious flow. Vinyasa yoga has three inherent parts:
- Moving from an intuitive power center
- Engaging in a biomechanically sound sequence of movements
- Using breath as the foundation of the physical practice
When the breath is at the center, we are engaging in a Vinyasa yoga practice.
Vinyasa can be interpreted as “that which is without obstruction.” When we calm the mind’s fluctuations and dissolve the more obvious blocks of the psyche, the body is then animated with inherent intelligence, allowing actions and energy to unfold in a balanced, magical, and methodical way.
Yet, literally, the translation from Sanskrit is “to set” from the root nyasa and the prefix vi, “in a unique way.” When we witness a child begin to crawl, then walk, and then run, we see the natural evolution of a vinyasa, a harmonious yet all-intelligent sequence of events. Through vinyasa yoga practice, we can have a new birth experience on our yoga mats. The equivalent of first crawling, walking, and then running in both body and heart.
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As we know it in the West, Vinyasa yoga has come down to us from the great South Indian teacher Krishnamacharya, guru, and teacher to both B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois.
Krishnamacharya believed that the vinyasa approach was central to the healing and life-changing qualities of yoga. Krishnamacharya passed down to us the vinyasa asana sequences as we find in the popular Ashtanga vinyasa practices as taught by Pattabhi Jois and taught vinyasa as a central or universal principle to all of life and indeed to all aspects of practicing and teaching yoga.
Krishnamacharya’s son Desikachar has carried on his father’s work, which emphasizes the principle of adaptation, based on assessing and reading individual needs and then setting the framework for a step-by-step, personalized practice that meets the needs of each person or group. This is often achieved by modifying movements and creating unique sequences (vinyasas) that bring the practitioner from one place within themselves to a newer and more awakened point.
As a result, we’ve learned that when a vinyasa practice is taught with space for adaptation, modification, and meeting individual needs, it can allow for tremendous growth and transformation to occur for the practitioner. The beauty of a vinyasa practice is that when lessons are learned on the mat, they can be applied in all life areas off the mat.
Through vinyasa yoga practice, we learn the very empowering principle of stira, sukha asanam. Stira means “to act,” and sukha means “to allow.” Finding the balance between taking purposeful action and conscious relaxation. Through this principle, we learn to give just the right and balanced amount of energy and effort not only to each asana but to all we do in life.
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As a newer student to vinyasa, it is ideal for slowing down the vinyasas a bit and learn the basics of sound alignment and technical knowledge from a qualified teacher.
Once you’ve set a foundation, you can begin to let go, trust and allow space for grace, joy, light, and power to flow through you, moving you seamlessly from one asana right into the next. Vinyasa is a frictionless, meditative flow that creates proper health and transformation in body, mind, heart, and spirit.