Breathing is an important component of yoga. Synchronization between breathing patterns and yoga posture enhances the outcomes. Vinyasa Yoga is one such form of yoga that is highly linked with paced breathing patterns.
Distanced from western ideologies, today we will see what vinyasa yoga actually means.
What is Vinyasa Yoga?
Vinyasa is a Sanskrit word that is a combination of three different terms. Vi, Ni, and Asa together contribute to creating the term Vinyasa. The term Asa is the backbone of this word that means to place. The other two words that are Vi and Ni, are the prefixes that denote the pre and post-progression. Together three terms mean the structured placement of the body.
Many people confuse vinyasa yoga for physical exercise, which is not true. It is a more complex practice. In vinyasa, yoga asanas are just a small part, but there are other components.
There is a Sanskrit word thristhana which means a combination of three. So Vinyasa yoga is a combination of three different bodily elements. These three elements are the mental focus, breathing, and asanas. Lacking any of them while performing vinyasa yoga will expel you from reaching the divine of vinyasa.
In vinyasa yoga, we practice a combination of yoga asanas in a way that they connect with each other. Suryanamaskar is a great example of vinyasa yoga. We combine different forms of asana of yoga to create one form. Breathing is the most important component here. Balancing your breath while switching to the next asana in a smooth way is the key.
Also Read- Benefits of Anulom Vilom Pranayama.
The Flow of Energy in Vinyasa Yoga
Vinaya yoga does not follow any fixed pattern of asana. Rather it challenges the patience and mental focus of a person. The continuous flow of energy from one yoga asana to another yoga asana while having proper control over breath is challenging. The continuous shift and body moments improve the mental strength of the practitioner.
History of Vinyasa Yoga
Patanjali was a famous Indian sage and the creator of yoga. According to him, there are 8 limbs of yoga. These eight limbs are Ahimsa, Satya, Asana, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha, Saucha, Santosh, and Tapas. The third limb, as per Patanjali, is asana, the precursor for vinyasa yoga.
Yog guru Krishnamacharya is often termed the father of modern yoga. In the early 19th century, he bought together the three elements: breathing, mental focus, and asana. Then he arranged and synced them in a systematic manner to create vinyasa yoga.
His student Pattabhi Jois then practiced the vinyasa form for years and made several positive modifications. He then decided to spread this form in western countries along with other students. Westerners highly appreciated the yoga form and accepted it as modern yoga.
However, many Indian yoga gurus believe that Astanga yoga is the mother of vinyasa yoga and call it ashtanga vinyasa yoga. Learning yoga can bring many sightful changes in your life, learn yoga online with us.
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Elements and Characteristics of Vinyasa Yoga
Generally speaking, there are three main elements of vinyasa yoga:
- Controlled breathing
- Mental focus
- Yoga asanas
These three elements work together to create a balance in the body and help improve lifestyle while healing various issues.
A few important characteristics of vinyasa yoga are:
1. Flow of Energy
The prime characteristic of vinyasa yoga is controlled breathing and smooth energy flow from one pose to another.
2. Transition between Two Yoga Asanas
There is a very smooth transition during the change of asanas. It is very difficult to notice that one has changed poses during vinyasa yoga.
Controlled body movement compiled with proper inhaling and exhaling is the reason.
3. Creating Mental Focus
There are many challenging asanas in vinyasa yoga. Performing these asanas is tough and needs enhanced mental focus.
Losing focus can disrupt the transition phase.
4. Rigorous Physical Activity
Vinyasa yoga is characterized by continuous movement and physical activity. A practitioner without any breaks performs multiple yoga asanas in an effortless manner.
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What are the Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga?
Vinyasa is the bridge linking two or more yoga asanas. You need a high focus and energy level to practice this form.
There are certain challenges to practicing vinyasa yoga, but the overall benefits are worth the challenges. Performing vinyasa yoga in perfect sequence can bolster many health benefits.
Let’s look up the particular vinyasa yoga benefits.
1. Boost Cardiovascular Health:
Vinyasa is an intense form of yoga. Unlike other forms that are static and do not require rigorous movements. In vinyasa yoga, you must constantly move your body in different positions. Your heart pumps blood to different regions and organs of the body continuously.
For a limited period, your heart works continuously, strengthens heart muscles, and increases its capacity. Thereby enhancing cardiovascular strength and health.
A 2018 study on vinyasa yoga by Myung Dong Choi provides evidence that vinyasa yoga significantly improves cardiovascular health.
2. Improve Overall Lung Capacity:
The main idea of vinyasa yoga is to control your breathing patterns. During this practice, we inhale and exhale several times. Sometimes we need to hold our breath in our lungs for a certain time.
This practice regularly increases your lung capacity and strengthens the region’s muscles. Light vinyasa yoga is great for people suffering from breathing and lung issues.
3. Enhance mental focus:
You need to practice patience and focus on performing vinyasa yoga. There are certain yoga asanas that need intense focus. This practice improves your mental focus, which helps you in your overall life.
A good mental focus will help you remain calm and determined during life’s happy and sad phases.
4. Increased Flexibility:
Practicing vinyasa yoga is the key to enhancing your body’s flexibility. Deep stretches during asana help your muscle to stretch and relax.
Apart from muscle, your joints, ligaments, and tendons also get stretched during this process. A continuous cycle of stretching and relaxing increases your overall flexibility.
Improved flexibility decreases your chances of getting injuries during yoga, workouts, and daily tasks. Besides avoiding injuries, a flexible body can cure injuries much faster than a stiff body.
5. Increases Muscle and Bone Health:
A good overall muscle mass improves your strength and helps you become stronger. Certain vinyasa yoga asanas like Adho mukha svanasana and Setu bandha Sarvangasana enhance muscle mass.
These yoga asanas use your body weight and put certain pressure on muscles in your body. As a result, your muscle strength improves, and your body adds muscle mass in those areas.
Certain asanas that enhance your muscle does put some pressure on your bones. Regular vinyasa yoga practice enhances bone mineral density, thereby increasing bone health.
Also Read- Guide to Adaptive Yoga.
Vinyasa Yoga Poses
Here is a list of Yoga poses for Vinyasa Yoga:
1. Adho Mukha Svanasana
Get down in a push-up position, now bend your hips upwards and for a triangle pose. It is a great vinyasa yoga for weight loss.
2. Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana
Lie down on the mat with your face downward. Now bring your palm parallel to the shoulder and lift your upper body.
Stand straight and get into Anjali mudra. Now do a half squat and remain down for a few seconds and get into a normal position.
Widen your legs with your left leg behind the right leg. Now lift up your arms while bending the right knee.
6. Utthita Parsvakonasana
It is the same as virabhadrasana but you have to put your right elbow on your right knee. Now stretch your left arm towards your right hand.
Get in the push-up position and hold in the same position for a few seconds.
It is a simple push-up. Lie down with your face downward and bring your elbow parallel to your shoulders. Bend your elbows and go down and up then.
Lie down in a push-up position, now roll your body to one side with your elbow supporting the upper body. Raise your other arm up and remain in the position for some seconds.
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Vinyasa Yoga FAQs
Vinyasa-yoga is a modified form of ashtanga yoga. In vinyasa yoga, we practice multiple asanas one after another without any breaks. We use controlled breathing patterns for smooth transitions of yoga asanas.
Hatha yoga and vinyasa yoga have many things in common. The one thing that makes a huge difference between these two yoga forms is the pace at which we perform them.
In hath yoga, we perform one asana at a time slowly. Vinyasa yoga is a rigorous form of yoga that we perform without any breaks or rest.
We cannot say that vinyasa yoga is precisely a cardio workout. But a light intensity of vinyasa yoga can be used as a cardio exercise.
Yes, vinyasa yoga greatly helps in managing and reducing weight. High-intensity asanas we perform during vinyasa yoga burn calories, helping us lose weight.
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Practicing vinyasa yoga can be a tough task. However, things might become simple under proper guidance from expert yoga trainers. Start with beginner vinyasa yoga asanas and practice pranayama to increase breathing control and mental focus. Adapt to new asanas slowly while keeping a check on your physical state.
Try to be attentive during sessions and observe your yoga teacher carefully. Do not hesitate to ask your doubts. Apart from vinyasa yoga, you can also learn other yoga forms with our online yoga courses.