What is Vinyasa Flow?

All yoga practiced today stems from India thousands of years ago.  Throughout its long history within India, yoga saw many transformations in the way it was practiced and modern yoga appears to take many different forms. A defintion of yoga is ‘union’ or ‘yoke’: to unite mind, body and breath; to tie the strands of the mind together (i.e. to quieten and clear the mind) and no matter which yoga you practice all are trying to achieve this union.  Therefore it might be argued that are no differnt types of yoga; what is different is the way in which yoga is physcialy praticed or the yoga ãsanas (phyical poses).  As there are now many different practices of yoga ãsana, it can get a little confusing knowing what ‘type’ of yoga is going to be taught and whether this is going to be what you are looking for or need at that moment.

Vinyasa Flow, sometimes also called Power Yoga or Vinyasa Yoga, is a dynamic and energising practice that focuses on the breath and linking breath to movement.  This builds heat and sweat, which is said to cleanse the body and mind.  Depending on the teacher there is usually yoga philosophy weaved into the class and classes are often done to music, which can be anything from Indian sitars to Massive Attack to Hip Hop! The classes can be very strong and challenging, depending on the level, however classes can be adapted to suit all levels – yoga is for everyone.  Because some of the movements through the poses can be quick, I personally  recommend a complete beginner to go to a beginners-only class rather than straight into a general vinyasa yoga class.

A ‘vinyasa’ is the movment of jumping back into plank or chaturanga (low plank) and moving through into downward dog, as is done within the sun salutations usually performed at beginning of most yoga classes.  In Vinyasa Flow or Power Yoga this movement is repeated between poses, creating a ‘flow’, rather than stepping from one pose to the next.  This builds upper body strength, heat and sweat!

Vinyasa Yoga/Vinyasa Flow/Power Yoga is rooted in the traditional practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga from Mysore, India, which links breath to movement, has a fixed point of focus for each pose (known as Dristhi) and uses the vinyasa between poses.  However whilst in Ashtanga Vinyasa there is a set sequence that is taught and followed every classs in the same order, Vinyasa Flow mixes poses and sequences so that every class wil be a little bit different.  Each class wil usually follow this structure though:

  • Warm Up
  • Sun Salutations
  • Standing Poses (which might include arm balances and handstand)
  • Forward bends
  • Standing Balances
  • Seated poses
  • Backbends
  • Finishing sequence (inclduing headstand, shoulder stand, fish, maybe some twists)
  • Savasana