What Is Vinyasa Yoga or Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga? What Are Its Benefits and Poses?

Vinyasa Yoga or the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga[1] is another prominent bifurcation in the multidimensional practice that is Yoga. Vinyasa yoga encompasses fluidity among a string of poses. The fundamental principle is moving from one posture to another without a hitch. However, we incorporate a particular breathing pattern into the transition. We can also call it “flow yoga”. Vinyasa yoga doesn’t follow a strict pattern, which is suitable for people looking for a variation in their monotonous workout regimen. It has poses for beginners too. It has a host of benefits too.

What is Vinyasa Yoga?

We can address Vinyasa yoga as Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga too. Ashtanga which translates into eight limbs or the eight sutras suggested by Patanjali. This style of yoga was popularized by Pattabhi Jois and his grandson Sharath Jois. Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga makes use of all the eight branches in tandem. Disciples of Pattabhi Jois now teach Yoga in traditional Mysore style.

Vinyasa yoga is not rigid, unlike Bikram. No two classes are similar to each other. It emphasizes specific components like Tristhana and Vinyasa. Tristhana means three places of attention or action. The three areas are breathing system (pranayama), posture and position (a place where we train our attention to). While Vinyasa means aligning the breathing techniques with whatever stance we perform. Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is one of the most renowned contemporary forms of yoga. It stands apart from Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga focuses more on focusing on a pose at a single instant and rests at intervals.
The Vinyasa yoga, on the other hand, has a flow in the sequence. The sequence might be fixed as in the case of Ashtanga, where poses follow a particular order. However, instructors opt for a much more relaxed form of teaching. The postures practiced are at the discretion of the instructors.

What can we expect when we practice Vinyasa yoga?

Pattabhi Jois popularized this style of teaching in the 20th century. One must have a certain amount of mastery over the various poses before starting off. Although the general method is very relaxed, the Surya Namaskara or the sun salutation is almost always included in the routine. You can expand the class to be fast paced sometimes bordering on the edge of vigorous. However, the continuous flow irrespective of the pace is alignment oriented and also has many advanced postures. Some of the famous Yoga asanas included in this style are Plank pose, Cobra pose and upward facing dog pose to name a few. This is what the instructor means when they use Vinyasa as a noun. The level of difficulty gradually increases as you move from a beginner to an advanced degree.

Various poses of Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa Yoga is not to be confused with Power Yoga. While they have similarities, the true essence of Vinyasa Yoga lies in its unpredictable nature. The postures range in a wide variety. Each level of difficulty has specific positions. Some of the very popular postures are enumerated below.

  1.  Child pose: A very basic pose where the practitioner is on all fours. While lying on the ground, sink the hips down until it touches the toe. Extend the arms, and place your head on the ground. Further, you can take it deeper by connecting it to your natural breathing. This posture is a sure shot way to alleviate any stress. It also helps reducing tension in the lower back.                                                                    
  2.  Cat-cow Pose: It is a very popular pose in the Vinyasa yoga space. The practitioner gets on all fours. They extend the arms and stack their shoulder over the wrists. Then they should push their feet and shin to the ground. Lift your lower belly off and made parallel to the ground. Then, when you inhale, raise your tailbone and your head to achieve the cow pose. While exhaling, scoop your belly up, and tuck your chin like a cat. This asana has a grounding effect on the body. It connects movement from our breath, making us feel physically present.                       
  3.  Downward facing dog: The practitioner again starts off on all fours. While inhaling curl your toes. While exhaling, lift your hips high off the ground and extend your legs. Draw your chest towards your thighs. Take care, not to injure yourself in the act.

 

Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga.

Every posture has its effect on the body when it comes to Vinyasa Yoga. They are as follows.

  1.  It has almost become a universal rule for any form of yoga. It alleviates any stress. Hence, Vinyasa Yoga is a potent stress buster as well. It also curbs anxiety.
  2.  If you carry a lot of tension in the lower back or shoulders, then you should adopt Vinyasa Yoga to alleviate the pressure.
  3.  Vinyasa Yoga is a boon to those plagued with lower back pain and neck pain. It attacks the regions with vigor.
  4.  Specific asanas practiced in Vinyasa Yoga have core strengthening ability.
  5.  We achieve a significant amount of spinal mobility in this form of yoga.
  6.  Various muscle groups in the arms and legs get maximum stretching when we practice vinyasa yoga.
  7.  Posture improvement is one of the key benefits when it comes to practicing Vinyasa Yoga. This approach can mend any conditions related to incorrect posture.
  8.  Hamstrings, quads, hips which get tight due to insufficient movement, given our lifestyles. We work them to a maximum in this form.
  9.  It helps in weight management and tires the body.
  10.  It acts as an excellent option for a workout regimen if any other type of routine is not your cup of tea.

The unpredictable nature of this form of yoga makes it a lot more appealing to people. If you are looking forward to breaking a routine, then this form of yoga works wonders. It is also straightforward to practice. You can practice it yourself without the need of an instructor. The dynamic nature is what makes this very appealing.