What is Vinyasa?




  • What is Vinyasa? Where are you from? What does it consist of?
  • Breathing builds the most important and well-known transitions and sequences in yoga that are applied in almost all other styles of yoga.

In these times of instagram in which yoga has become another consumer object, the most diverse styles proliferate (beer yoga, pet yoga, yoga with goats, hot yoga). For this reason, it is often difficult to distinguish between the most rooted practice and a mere marketing product.

A little history


Although Hatha Vinyasa Yoga is not one of the oldest modalities, it is connected to the essential roots since its foundation in the 1930s by the teacher Sri Trimulai Krishnamacharya, who is considered the father of modern Yoga. In his book Yoga Makaranda "The Honey of Yoga", he exposes his concept of vinyasa, adding a hundred postures and their correct linking or sequencing.

Etymologically the translation of the Sanskrit root Nyasa means "to place" in Sanskrit, and vi means "in a specific way.". Placing something in a concrete way speaks of the synchronization of breath and movement, how they relate to each other and how each action leads to the next. This generates a fluid practice, where the postures are linked almost like a dance. This is how BKS Iyengar expresses it in his text Yogacharya:

“yoga is like music; the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind and the harmony of the soul, create the symphony of life.”

Iyengar learned it firsthand from Krishnamacharya, who was the teacher of five of the most renowned yoga teachers of the 20th century. XX: Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi, Ramaswami and his son, Desikachar, as well as Iyengar himself. Each has developed a own style, but they are all based on the concepts of their guru. Some remember him as an uncompromising and rigid teacher, others as pure compassion, but all agree on his great wisdom. Thanks to him, the current practice is based on the importance of the asana, because He knew the importance of this aspect of yoga and its transcendence beyond the purely physical.

Krishnamacharya had learned this yoga for seven years with his teacher Rama Mohan Brahmachari, in the Himalayas. He taught her by heart the text of an ancient Sanskrit text, the Yoga Koruna. This text would have been written by the ancient sage Vamaná Rishi, and it is where the phrase "Oh yogi, don't do asana without vinyasa." After leaving his guru he traveled extensively in the colonial India of his time and did a great job of reviving yoga. He was a great seeker and scholar in various disciplines that he incorporated into his methodology, developing a wide variety of sequences and learning how to connect through vinyasa.

This style of teaching has come down to our days through the famous dynamic series of the Ashtanga-Yoga of another of his disciples, Pattabhi Jois. The name is based on the text of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, (which we explain in our workshop on yoga philosophy), although in the latter Raja Yoga is described. This discipline focuses on quieting the mind by laying the foundations of yogi behavior, which are what PJ wanted to reflect in his series.


Vinyasa and Ashtanga

Vinyasa and Ashtanga are closely intertwined, since the popularity of Ashtanga and the teachings of its creator outside of India caused it to spread throughout the West. The new teachers who were opening up to physical practice absorbed the system and gradually derived it and mixed it with other modalities. This made Vinyasa evolve and acquire characteristics of other styles, differentiating itself from Ashtanga, to freer and more creative classes. In Vinyasa no series of postures is imposed, on the contrary, the sequences of movements are the result of the experience acquired by the teacher and can be adapted according to the needs of each one.

This separation between Ashtanga and Vinyasa occurred in parallel to the expansion of yoga throughout the world. Meanwhile, Krishnamacharya followed the progress of the system towards Vinyasa Krama Yoga and Vini Yoga, which Desikachar and Ramaswami acquired and expanded upon. The detailed attention to posture, its correct alignment and transition, which Jois defended, led to a more personalized vision, adapted to any physical condition and with a progression in postures. All this conception ended up being summed up in his most famous phrase: “It is not the person who must adapt to Yoga but Yoga that must be adjusted correctly to the person.”

The proposed Vinyasa method is based on meeting the individual needs of each student and the group, and accordingly building a class that goes deeper into each concept step by step. The variety of options offered by this freedom of sequences allows all parts of the body to be worked on in an integral way to bring them health. Special emphasis is given to long and soft breathing, in order to relax the attitudes and minds of yogis.


Vinyasa and breathing

The relationship between breathing and movement allows internal purification, and the perspiration that takes place during this practice helps us get rid of impurities and feeds Agni, the digestive fire. This acts not only on how we process food, but also on how we assimilate experiences, emotions and sensations from day to day. Typically in vinyasa yoga, inhalations are linked with upward movements and movements that open the front of the body, thus favoring lightness. The exhalations, on the other hand, are linked to the movements that compress the belly, as in forward bends or twists, which help us anchor ourselves and find stability due to their descending energy.

By putting so much focus on the breath, greater concentration is achieved during the practice. In this way you gain awareness of attitudes, emotions and experiences that can later be transferred outside the mat. Thus, Vinyasa is an art of approaching life. It teaches you about yourself in every gesture, being able to apply these skills and attention to all the rhythms and sequences of life: self-care, relationships, work and personal evolution.

Vinyasa classes

A normal session is structured by starting out gently. It is sustained over time and progressively heads towards a peak moment, leaving a space to complete, balance and integrate everything that has been worked on. Each phase has its lesson to learn, it builds on the previous work and thus each practitioner understands where they are. Although it should be remembered that Vinyasa is not only a sequence of actions: but those that awaken consciousness and sustain attention.

This is how I understand vinyasa and how I offer it in my classes. It is a process of becoming aware. It is a work through the body but comprehensive that leads us to pay attention to what happens on a physical, mental and spiritual level. It allows us to progressively grow personally, gaining in security, self-esteem and the way you live your day to day.

In Sincronía there are different teachers who teach this variety (Carola, Gala, irina Y me). And, in the teachings of almost all teachers, whatever their style, there will be movements linked to breathing, such as the Surya Namaskar. Although our classes may seem very different, they all follow the motto of the creator of Vinyasa:"Teach what is inside you, but not how you apply it to yourself, but how it should be applied to others"

Since I started in Vinyasa, it has allowed me to discover more about myself, to find a place where I can look at myself softly, get to know myself better, open myself to changes in my life and feel in full contact with myself; and that is what I want to believe that I bring to my students. For me, Vinyasa is rooting in you, in your deepest essence, in the tradition of Yoga and above all in consciousness.

» The success of yoga lies not in the ability to perform postures, but in the way it positively changes the way we live our lives and our relationships.”-TKV Desikachar-


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