Why do we Vinyasa?
Written by Kelly Ann Basin
In Sanskrit, Vinyasa means to place in a special way. The Western definition is the movement between poses in yoga, accompanied by breath in order to form a flowing sequence. It also means a gradual progression; a step-by-step flow which skillfully takes a student safely from one point to the next. Vinyasa is a widely used technique with a number of meanings. Similarly to using downward dog as a resting posture, Vinyasa
is a sequence used to regroup. It is a beginning and an ending. A Vinyasa is a sequence of Asanas (poses) combined with movement and breath. The most common Vinyasa is a sun salutation known as Surya Namaskar.
Vinyasa links each motion. It is an intelligent and sequential process with an organic harmony. Vinyasa nurtures awareness and connection. Similarly to the way an ecosystem works (a stream which flows into a river and then flows into an ocean) Vinyasa creates a postural flow creating a larger source of energy and connection.
A famous Indian teacher, Krishnamacharya, teaches and believes Vinyasa is a broad and overarching concept in the practice of yoga. “The vinyasa method includes assessing the needs of the individual student (or group) and then building a complementary, step-by-step practice to meet those needs (This is what is accomplished in the modified Office Yoga Vinyasa). Beyond this, Krishnamacharya emphasized Vinyasa as an artful approach to living, a way of applying the skill and awareness of yoga to all the rhythms and sequences of life, including self-care, relationships, work, and personal evolution.” The fluidness built by taking a Vinyasa creates a template for connection within a yoga class and in the practice of yoga. (https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/consciousness-in-motion)
Office Yoga uses a personalized Vinyasa to cater to the needs of the students and the class; mountain pose, standing cactus arms, clasped arms behind the back, and forward fold (see previous blog post on “Office Yoga Vinyasa”). This allows students to fully engage in and gain from the benefits of Vinyasa in an office setting.
Vinyasa is the framework and the foundation of the practice. This framework brings awareness to each step of the practice by using breath, motion and repetition. The practice of repeating oneself is human nature; we create routines to remain centered and grounded, to maintain healthy and succinct lives. Vinyasa is a coming back to ourselves. Vinyasa is used to help us maintain personal connection.
In opposition to routine, yoga tradition contains a belief that change is an inevitable part of life, and constant change is inherent. This belief is called parinamavada. How we feel and where we are spiritually, emotionally and physically changes constantly. A Vinyasa allows us to check-in with ourselves each time we practice and throughout the practice, encouraging people to practice according to how they feel.
Another important purpose is to maintain contact with life force, Prana or breath. Vinyasa draws power and strength from Prana. It is a breathing system, a union of breath and movement.
Vinyasa is a beautiful, ethereal, flowing, dance of breath, movement and connectivity. It facilitates heat and strength in your body while creating flexibility and peace. It is an intoxicating component of the practice that allows us to stay connected, present, and stable.