What’s this? Why is it so popular?
“Vinyasa” is a Sanskrit term that means “to place/arrange in a special way”. Basically it is a group of sequential movements that harmonizes pranayama (breath control) in a continuous flow. There are different types of yoga that can be incorporated in Vinyasa, such as Ashtanga, power yoga, Prana flow, and Jivamukti, to name a few.
Vinyasa is also unpopularly known in some circles as “yogacise”, because of its ability to make one sweat and burn calories, which is akin to most cardio exercises.
Most experts believe vinyasa is not only about exercise but more importantly, it is about getting to know yourself/body better and learning to love yourself. Vinyasa flow helps you look inwards as it is a very introspective and beautiful meditative practice. It gives you something to focus your mind on, between the breaths and movement from asanas, your mind is centered on the moment. Think of meditation on skateboards!
The Surya Namaskara (sun salutation) is commonly used as a sequence in vinyasa classes and it strengthens the muscles and opens the joints. Most of the poses such as Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) refreshes and nourishes the organs, stimulates the scalp and engages the core. The Prana (breath) is crucial in moving from one asana (pose) to the other, synchronizing breath and movement.
Vinyasa flow is so popular because it is a strength training process that helps build lean muscle mass throughout the body. This is really important because the muscles are given equal attention, which creates balanced strength in the body.
This practice is also key in elongating and opening up the muscles which results in flexibility! Once the muscles become flexible, it takes stress away from the joints, ligaments, and tendons, which in the long run, prevents injuries like muscle pulls and tears.
Personally, vinyasa flow yoga is my go-to when stressed, because of its engaging and meditative nature, it quickly de-stresses and brings me to the present moment. You see the thing about stress is that we are fixated on the past and future, things we worry about, mistakes we’ve made, re-living negative moments over and over in our minds wondering how we could have done better, or replied in a different way.
Vinyasa grounds you in the present, where you look inwards and the focus is shifted to your body, mind and spirit and the meditative and physical process brings healing to the mind body and spirit. Usually I feel much better too!
The stronger we get in our yoga practice the more we grow stronger mentally, because of the rule I call transferring. When I work so hard to get into a difficult pose, the moment I overcome it and it is made simple, I transfer to work and real life, and overcome “obstacles”, you know when life gives you lemons…. Yoga!
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