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What Is Vinyasa Yoga?

Vinyasa yoga is a discipline that utilizes postures and breathing techniques. This form of yoga offers a range of health benefits to those who practice it, as it encompasses all areas of mind, body and spirit.

How It’s Different

Derived from hatha yoga, Vinyasa yoga differs in some important ways from its predecessor. Vinyassa yoga is often faster paced, and the assanas (postures) are linked together in a series of movements that are synchronized with the breath. Much emphasis is placed on the breath and the transition in and out of the assanas. Generally speaking, upward movements correlate with inhalations of the breath, and downward movements with exhalations.

The continual movements, from one pose to another, gives you an added cardiovascular benefit, which more traditional forms of yoga do not have. The routine practice of vinyasa yoga can increase muscle strength, endurance and flexibility, and reduce levels of stress.

Vinyasa yoga offers much diversity. The pace can vary and there is no one particular sequence that instructors must follow. In fact, the name vinyasa is a Sanskrit word that translates as "variations within parameters." This flexibility allows the teacher to tailor the sequences to their own philosophy. So, if one class doesn’t work for you, try another, until you find one that you are comfortable with.

Sun Salutations

Most vinyasa yoga classes will begin with sun salutations, a sequence of postures done in succession, one flowing into the next. Below is a description of some postures that make up sun salutations.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

  1. Stand with your feet together.
  2. Hold your arms in a prayer position in front of your body.
  3. Lift your toes off of the floor, fan them out, and bring them back down again.
  4. Feel your feet grounded to the floor. Stretch your head towards the ceiling.
  5. Draw in your stomach and press your shoulders down.
  6. Keep your shoulders and hips aligned.

Raised Hand Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)

  1. Starting from the tadasana pose, lift your arms to the sides and then upwards.
  2. Press your palms together, over your head.
  3. Arch your back and gaze towards your hands.

Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

  1. Starting from the previous pose, bend forward at the hips with your arms out to the sides.
  2. Bring your hands in front of your feet and try to press your palms to the floor.
  3. Shift your weight towards the balls of your feet, keeping your hips aligned with your ankles.
  4. Let your head hand loose.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

  1. Lower yourself down onto your hands and knees.
  2. Push up with your toes and straighten your legs.
  3. Press back with your hands, pushing your bottom towards the ceiling.
  4. Hang your head.
  5. Shift your weight back towards your heels.
  6. Draw forward into a push-up position.
  7. Press your hips to the floor.
  8. Arch your back and gaze up towards the ceiling.

Vinyasa yoga can be a fun and challenging way to work out. However, if you are new to yoga or are not use to exercising, you may want to start with a gentler form of yoga.

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