Vinyasa yoga is sometimes known as ‘flow’ yoga, because of the smooth dance-like movement through the postures and the way the movement is synchronized to the breath. Vinyasa actually means ‘breath-synchronized movement’. The breath acts as an anchor to the movement as you flow from one pose to the next in time with an in breath or an out breath.
Vinyasa Yoga is suitable for beginners as long as the class is chosen with care. It is also great for those with more experience who are looking for a more varied and dynamic form of yoga.
Here are just a few of the benefits of Vinyasa Yoga
You stay focused by going with the flow.
In Vinyasa yoga you move through the postures (asanas) in a smooth flowing way and each pose is linked to an inhale and an exhale. A good Vinyasa instructor will keep the sequence of movements smooth and continuous. This flow can be great for helping you stay focused during the practice and preventing the fluctuations of the mind. This helps you to stay present in the practice, which is part of what yoga is all about.
It’s exciting and varied
Vinyasa is a very flexible style of yoga. Where some forms of yoga repeat prescribed sequences, in Vinyasa teachers are free to choreograph the poses in any way they choose. This stops Vinyasa from getting predictable and boring. Music is usually incorporated into classes, which adds to the rhythm of the form.
It pushes you to your limits.
Though it might sound easy and relaxing, Vinyasa actually works you hard and you will see improvements in strength, flexibility, and balance after just a few sessions. Vinyasa helps you move with grace and can have a powerful effect on your mind due to the focus the practice requires.
It’s a good cardio workout
The continuous sequences of Vinyasa yoga provide a great cardio workout. Because you are moving more in this style of yoga, you will increase your heart rate and breathing and work up a sweat more than in some slower forms.
It is uplifting
One of the most special things about Vinyasa is the beautiful flow. Being in a class where everyone is moving together gracefully and breathing together in time to the music can be a wonderfully uplifting experience.
It is suitable for beginners
Since Vinyasa is so varied there are lots of classes available so it is easy to find one that suits you. This style is also a great way to learn the basics of pranayama, (yogic breathing), as the instructor will tell you when to inhale and exhale during each pose.
There are beginner sessions and courses available and it is well worth taking the time to do these because you will need a teacher who will explain the postures and alignments correctly. Some teachers assume you know the postures and can move through them without help. If you find a class is above your level, you should switch to one for beginners. If you attempt postures you are unfamiliar with without a teacher to help with correct alignment you risk injury.
It is also important not to push yourself too hard in Vinyasa. The muscles do need to be challenged but if they become over-tired this can put a strain on the joints.
To balance and enhance your yoga practice you might like to consider taking a class in a style that is more focused on the individual asanas and correct alignment, as well as combing different elements such as meditation.