It's such a popular Yoga style now! You can see Vinyasa Yoga on the schedule of many Yoga studios. Even when some Yoga classes are not called Vinyasa Yoga, there's still a chance they have the format of a Vinyasa Yoga class. So what is Vinyasa Yoga? I'm teaching Vinyasa Yoga classes too, let me try to put together the long story into short.
Vinyasa is from Ashtanga Yoga
I am not a practitioner of Ashtanga Yoga, so if I make some mistakes while I explain, please don't let it bother you. However, I have done the first Ashtanga series several times though; without proper instruction, I just did it with Youtube. Anyway, the Ashtanga series are fixed sequences of Yoga poses. In each series, there are about 5 sequences. The series starts with repetitions of Sun Salutations A and B, then sequences of Yoga poses. Between poses, there is often a Vinyasa which is a flow through Chaturanga Dandasana, Upward Facing Dog, and Downward Facing Dog. Sounds familiar? Yes, the idea of Vinyasa comes from here.
Ashtanga Yoga series is pretty hardcore and strong. Not everyone can do it, or want to take the challenge to do it. So in recent years, people take the main features of the Ashtanga sequences and put into a more freestyle Yoga - Vinyasa Yoga.
Some features of a Vinyasa Yoga class.
If you have been doing Yoga in multiple class styles, you may have noticed these features that often show in a Vinyasa Yoga class:
- Sun Salutations
- The Vinyasa: (Plank), Chaturanga Dandasana (or Knee-Chest-Chin), Upward Facing Dog (or Cobra), and Downward Facing Dog.
- Moving in a flow rather than long holds
- Move as the breaths
- Building up the sequences toward a big goal of the class.
The goals can be a peak pose (a Yoga pose, often hard and complex one), a skill (e.g: balance, inversion, arm balance, etc), or a goal for the mind (determination, patience, etc) or any other goals depend on the Yoga teacher.
The real meaning of Vinyasa
I mean the literal meaning of the word Vinyasa in Sanskrit. The word ¨Vinyasa¨ means to put together (in a specific order).
What about my Vinyasa Yoga class?
To me, the most important feature in a Vinyasa Yoga class that I give is the goal of the class or the TARGET. I stick to the true meaning of the word Vinyasa, to put together Asana in a specific order and lead the Yoga practice somewhere. A Vinyasa Yoga class to me does not necessarily have Sun Salutations, nor ¨the Vinyasa¨, nor continuous movements. Does not have to be one pose - one breath. But it definitely has to have THE TARGET. Where will this class lead me to? What am I doing, or just make up a bunch of movements together? If I'm doing so, I feel like a Contemporary Dance class can do that job much better than I do.
Yoga practice is just like anything in Life, if we have a target, we go much faster. - me
and not only faster, it's also more effective, straightforward, and it makes life so simple. I love a Yoga class that has a clear target, and everything in the class is to bring me to that target. While I do that class, my mind is in the same place as my body. There should be no thought, but only aiming to the target. And THAT is the Yoga class I want to give. Concentration for me is gold, and I guess for many of us in the age of endless entertainment now.
In my career as a Yoga teacher, more than money, fame, popularity, I wish to have my mind strong and clear enough to give such target-aiming Yoga classes that make people really FOCUS. And to me, that is powerful.
Of course, sometimes I still fail, but that, having a goal in each class, is my goal when I teach Yoga.