How would you react if I tell you, Vinyasa Yoga can burn 500-600 calories during a 1-hour session?
Have you ever seen a person drenched in sweat after a Yoga session? No, I am not talking about Hot Yoga, where the studio itself is warm.
Have you ever felt Yoga is a little slow for your taste?
Are you a little tired of doing the same Yoga routines?
Then it is time, you should know about Vinyasa Yoga.
A Short History
Before we discuss Vinyasa, let’s go back into the history of Yoga’s evolution. There are many schools of Yoga established by different masters over a period of time.
Almost all of our present Yoga schools can be traced back to Patanjali’s Yoga sutras. Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Bikram Yoga are some of the famous schools practiced nowadays.
Our modern Vinyasa Yoga is said to be influenced by T Krishnamacharya’s teachings. They say he went to the Himalayas and spent eight years learning Yoga.
He is also credited for designing Yoga postures to suit an individual’s need, instead of constant postures.
Meaning of Vinyasa
The Sanskrit word Vinyasa split into two, Vi and Nyasa. Vi means ‘VARIATIONS,’ and Nyasa means ‘WITHIN Parameters.’
What’s the difference?
During a typical yoga session, we start by inhaling or exhaling to enter an asana. We maintain that asana through a few breaths. After a few seconds or minutes, we come back to the initial position by inhaling or exhaling (depending on the posture).
Take a few seconds to rest and repeat the asana or move on to the next asana.
In Vinyasa Yoga, it is a little different.
- We don’t stop in-between the asanas. From one asana we go to another with a transition movement.
In addition to this, there are a few other differences.
- Vinyasa Yoga considers those transitions as an asana too. In other forms of Yoga, they don’t have significant importance to transitions.
- We move from one asana to another by calculating our breath.
Ashtanga Yoga and Bikram yoga have predetermined Yoga sequences. For example, there are 26 postures in Bikram Yoga. They are performed in the same repetitive order.
Ashtanga, too follows the same principle.
- Vinyasa Yoga doesn’t have any such specific fixed sequences. The instructors have the freedom to experiment with many sequences.
Some people may find some yoga postures challenging to cope with. They might have physical injuries prohibiting them from entering those asanas.
But in Vinyasa Yoga, the instructor can modify the specific needs of the Individual’s conditions. The customization provides an opportunity to achieve the maximum potential through Yoga for everyone.
In that way, Vinyasa Yoga is truly Universal.
Significance of Vinyasa
Whether we practice Yoga for Weight loss or to maintain our physical fitness, there is a catch. The catch is not only associated with Yoga but also other forms of exercise too.
When we start any fitness regime, initially, we’d see the physical changes immediately. But if we don’t increase the intensity or the repetition over time, we wouldn’t see any results.
There is a scientific reason behind this. When we start some new process, our body is fresh. It immediately absolves the regime and gives us the result.
But when we repeat the process, our muscles get used to the intensity. As a result, we don’t see any changes. To overcome that, we need to increase the repetition or the intensity of our workout.
Now, let’s revise the meaning of Vinyasa. ‘Variations within parameters.’
Every time the asanas are practiced during a Vinyasa session, there is no defined sequence. The variation makes sure our body doesn’t get adapted to the single sequence of Yoga.
This is why we can get better results with Vinyasa Yoga. Our body never gets accustomed to the sequences.
Ujjayi breathing is a technique we use during Vinyasa Yoga.
Usually, Pranayama is practiced separately. While entering and maintaining an asana, we don’t vary our breathing. We maintain constant inhale and Exhale throughout.
But while we practice Vinyasa Yoga, we employ the Ujjayi technique.
In Ujjayi, we breathe from our diaphragm. During normal breathing, when we inhale, our chest rises. But in Ujjayi, when we inhale, our stomach stretches. Thus, it fills the stomach first and rises the lower rib cage.
Inhaling and exhaling are done through our nose. When we use this technique, it creates an ocean rushing sound. That’s why it is also called ‘the ocean breath.’
There are some benefits associated with this technique. Inhale and Exhale timing is the same in Ujjayi. Unlike during our normal breathing, we inhale more than we exhale.
Ujjayi lets us take enough oxygen and releases the toxic energy out of our body during the long exhale. It helps in increasing our body heat. It is also a calming and balancing breath.
The ultimate aim of any Yoga school is to maintain good health. In Vinyasa, with little variations, we can tweak the results to suit our specific needs.
Ashtanga or Bikram has postures that increase our Core strengths. Vinyasa let us understand the importance of poses and transitions.
Because of the flowing transitions, Vinyasa can be equated to a cardio workout. No other Yoga schools can achieve the Cardio results which we attain through Vinyasa.
- Generates a lot of body heat.
- It is suitable for endurance training.
- Even athletes can practice Vinyasa as a substitute for Strength training.
- Non-stop flow transitions increase our stability and balance.
- Reduces our stress and improves our mental satisfaction.
- Sharpens our focus and lets us take in-charge of our body.
- Breaks our monotony and brings challenges to our workouts.
- A lot of scopes to improve ourselves.
Yoga is relatively safer than other fitness regimes. We don’t deal with heavy objects here. Nonetheless, if we are not careful during the session, injuries are prone to happen.
If you’re a beginner to the concept of Yoga, it is better to start with Ashtanga Yoga or Bikram Yoga. They are comparatively safer than Vinyasa. Also, they break the postures for a few seconds to rest our bodies.
During the beginner stage, it is beneficial to have those resting seconds. It will give our body a little time to cope with the regimen. It is better to avoid those muscle cramps.
Once you’ve got accustomed to the Yoga sequences, your core will be stronger. You’ll have a better balance and stability. You’ll have more control over your body. Now, you can switch to Vinyasa for a few classes to get to know about it.
If you’re an athlete, it is okay to try Vinyasa. You’ll get the hang of it in a few classes.
Vinyasa Yoga – Postures
So far, we’ve talked about how Vinyasa differs from other Yoga schools. The variations. But there is one aspect which doesn’t vary.
During every session, the instructor would tell us to start with Vinyasa. Here Vinyasa is a collection of 4 postures.
They are Adho Mukha Shvanasana(Downward-Facing Dog), Chaturanga Dandasana(Plank), Cobra Pose. If you’re a beginner, you can replace Chaturanga Dandasana with the simple Knee-chest-chin posture.
These are the initial postures during Vinyasa Yoga. Once the warming up is finished, the instructor would take you through the other postures in a random transition.
Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Shvanasana)
How to do
- Kneel on the mat. Relax your body. Your upper body should be in line with your knees.
- Lean forward and place your hands perpendicular to the floor.
- Inhale and raise your hips. Move your legs backward. Keep your legs and hands at hip-width apart.
- Raise it until your shoulders and knees are no longer bent. Keep your feet firmly on the floor.
Plank pose is usually entered from Downward facing dog (Adho mukha svanasana).
How to do?
- Stand straight and relax your body.
- Lower your body as you’re going to sit down. Lean front and place your palms on the ground. Your fingers should be facing forward.
- Take your legs backward and sit them on their toes. Now you’re in the push-up pose. Keep your toes hip wide apart.
- Keep your arms perpendicular to the ground.
- Don’t sink your body into the ground. Keep it at your shoulder level. Don’t sink your head too much. Keep it aligned with your body.
- Don’t bend your knees or hip.
How to do
- Lie on the mat with your head facing the floor. Keep your hands on the side.
- Do not bend your knees. Keep your legs straight. They should be hip-width apart.
- Now move your hands forwards and place your palms closer to your chest.
- Inhale. Push your palms against the floor and raise your shoulder upwards.
- Open your head, neck, and your chest while raising your shoulder.
- Do not raise your lower body at all. They should be firmly touching the ground. Tighten your thighs for a more effective outcome.
Break the Monotony
Vinyasa is a great place to experiment and improve your fitness. It let you check your extreme levels. Most importantly, it breaks our monotonous routine. Practice Vinyasa under an instructor, and if you’re comfortable and excited with its results, you can make the switch from Ashtanga or Bikram.
You can custom yoga plans specially designed for your body, here.