An Introduction to The Art Of Vinyasa
The Art Of Vinyasa has been around since ancient times in India, the philosophy and practice of this art is developing fast and becoming a very popular form of Yoga practice today.
"Vinyasa" comes from the Sanksrit "nyasa" which means "to place" and the prefix "vi", " in a special way" - as in the arrangement of notes in a song or raga, the steps along a path to the top of a mountain, or the linking of one asana to the next. Shiva Rea - Vinaysa The Yogic Art Of Conscious Evolution - Wave within Motion - Fluid Power Teacher Intensive 2005.
In the Yoga world, the most common understanding of "vinyasa" is as a flowing sequence of specific asanas coordinated with the movements of the breath.
The breath is one of the most important parts of your Yoga practice, as B K Iyengar noted "If you can breath, then you can practice yoga"
Vinyasa originates within the yogic teachings of Sri T. Krishnamarchya whose students are the head of three of the main forms of classical yoga today: Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (Pattabhi Jois), Iyengar Yoga (BKS Iyengar), Viniyoga (T.K.V. Desikachar).
Krishnamacharya also emphasized vinyasa as an artful approach to living, a way of applying the skill and awareness to all rhythms and sequences of life. For example in everyday life; the cycle of the day, from Morning - Afternoon - Evening, the way we move from one place to another, these cycles can all be understood as Vinyasa and can be applied to self-care, relationships, work and personal evolution.
Vinyasa yoga requires that we cultivate an awareness that links each action to the next-one breath at a time.
These teachings of yoga and vinyasa include a view called parinamavada, the idea that constant change is an inherent part of life, and so to embody ones own flow within a vinyasa class almost seems a natural way to practice and progress, for we cannot assume that we were the same person we were yesterday, and so we must listen to the changing conditions of our body and mind each time we step onto our mats and our practice to be guided by the way we are feeling.
The Parameters of Vinyasa Yoga
The parameters prescirbed in classical yoga with respect to yogasanas, as contained in Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, are:
For a posture to qualify as a yoga asana, the ability to remain steady is paramount, be it standing on his or her feet (tadasana) or standing on his or her head (sirasana).
Use of breath and the close attention of the mind to the breath, which are the hallmarks of the yoga, ensure that there are considerable joy and relaxation for the practitioner.
Smooth and Long Breathing (Prayatna Sithila).
Prayatna (effort) here refers to jivana prayatna, or effort of life, which, is breath. This condition stipulates that while practicing asanas, the breath should be smooth and long. So, while doing yoga correctly, one should not pant heavily. In contrast to aerobic exercise (which itself has benefits), neither the breathing rate nor heart rate should increse while practicing yoga. Since the movements are slow in vinyasa yoga, one has to slow one's breathing rate as well.
Breath rate in Vinyasa 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. If while doing several vinyasas in a sequence, one feels overworked or out of breath, one should take rest of one or two minutes to regain one's breath. People who practice these vinyasas often find that their breath rate gradually decreases over a period of time, both during practice and habitually; the mind becomes more calm and joyful as well.
1) Vinyasa "nyasa" to place and "vi" "in a special way"
2) Vinyasa krama an intelligent organization of asanas progressing appropriately towards a goal
3) Flow to move or be moved freely in a steady, unbroken stream
4) Yoga to unify, the state of being unified, to yoke
Principles of Vinyasa
1) Movement and breath are coordinated together.
2) Start where you are and design a practice that is appropriate for your needs
3) Begin with the simplest poses and progress toward the more complex.
4) Asana or postures contain the two qualities of sthira (steadiness, alertness) and sukha (inner joy, ease) and reflect the hatha yoga approach of the union of opposites (solar/lunar)
5) Use counter poses to balance the effects of each asana
6) Use modifications of postures for different levels and injury prevention
7) Listen to your body, always come out of a pose when your breath or equilibrium is disturbed or there is strain in the body
8) Cultivate a gradual progression/evolution within your yoga practice.
Basic Techniques of Vinyasa Flow yoga
Asana Postures: standing poses, balance poses, backbends, twists, forward bends, hip openers, and inversions
Ujayi Pranayama "Victorious Breath"
Drishti Gaze placement of the eyes for concentration and inner and outer-balance
Bandhas- Three Bandhas (locks or gathering of energy): Mula Bandha (root-lock), Udyiana Bandha, ("to fly up" lifting of the lower belly ) Jalandhara-Bandha (chin lock)
Navigating the Flow: Questions to help connect the underlying evolution within a practice
Grounding/Stabilizing the Pose (Where is the anchor within a pose)
Activation (Where is the pose activated/initiated from)
Elongation (in which direction is the spine elongating itself)
Relationship (what is the relationship from one pose to the next)
For more information on Vinyasa Yoga:
The complete book of Vinyasa Yoga - The authoritative presentation - based on 30 years of direct study under the legendary yoga teacher Krishnamacharya
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