Yoga Vinyasa - Go with the Flow
Yoga vinyasa’s are simple to perform and can fit into the busiest of days. Just fifteen minutes a day of vinyasa style yoga will bring many benefits to both body and mind.
The term vinyasa refers to “breath synchronised movement”. However the literal translation of the word is as follows vin = special and ayasa = to place. A true vinyasa moves mindfully, placing the body with care and attention, by integrating the breath in this way achieves this. With each inhalation and exhalation the body is moved harmoniously through a series of postures. The synchronicity between breath and movement is maintained throughout the entire practice which helps to clear and focus the mind and assists the body physically as it moves between each posture.
The key to Vinyasa Yoga is to Go with the Flow
During an inhalation the torso naturally expands as the lungs inflate with air so this is the ideal time to elongate the torso. During the exhalation the diaphragm contracts and muscles are able to relax so any forward folding or rotating postures are perfect, it is also the ideal time to release and deepen various stretches and postures too. If postures are held during a vinyasa practice then the breath is used to lengthen and release in each posture.
Rolling through cat (majaryasana) is the perfect example of a simple vinyasa that allows for the expansion of the torso and the contraction of the diaphragm as you inhale and exhale. The body naturally moves in this way synchronising with each breath.
The Benefits of Vinyasa Flow Yoga
Practicing vinyasas and bringing this fluid motion into your day will increase your heart rate, build long lean muscles, reduce excess body fat, clear and focus the mind, improve flexibility, massage internal organs, help to balance the body, raise vitality, release endorphins, remove toxins and encourage you to” go with the flow.
Surya Namaskar - Sun Salutation
The following version of a Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) is a great starting point.
Begin in tadasana (the mountain), stand with a straight spine and a small space between the insides of your feet with the outside edges of your feet parallel. Begin to breathe slowly in and out through your nose.
When you are ready fully inhale as you exhale bring your hands to a prayer position in front of your chest.
Inhale and lift your hands above your head allowing your hands to part so that they are shoulder width apart with your palms facing forward, activate your lower abdominal muscles (to protect the lower back) and lift your breast bone, drop your head back and allow your hips to move forward.
Exhale and fold your body into uttanasana (standing forward bend). Make sure you engage the lower abdominal muscles as you fold forwards, your arms take the natural path down until your fingertips touch the floor or they just hang alongside your legs.
Inhale and step your right leg back as far as possible whilst bending your left knee, to form a long lunge and place your hands onto the floor. Make sure that your left knee is over your left ankle (to protect the knee).
Exhale and move to adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog). Step the left foot back so it is beside the right, allow your hips to move up and back to create a triangular shape with your body and the floor.
Inhale and move to santolasana (high plank) by moving your shoulders forward and lowering your hips to form a straight line between your shoulders and your heels. Make sure that you brace the abdominal muscles as you move through this transition to protect your lower back.
As you exhale lower knees, chest and chin to the floor whilst the hips remain lifted, this posture is known as the the 8 point salutation.
Inhale and move to urdhva mukha svanasana (upward facing dog). Slide your chest forward, lower your hips and slowly straighten your arms lifting your shoulders and torso from the floor.
Exhale and activate the lower abdominal muscles firmly as you move back to adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog).
Inhale and step the right foot forward into anjaneyasana (long lunge). This time the left leg is extended.
Exhale and step your left foot beside your right, straighten your legs and relax your upper body into uttanasana (standing forward bend).
Inhale and slowly uncurl whilst lifting the arms keeping them parallel. When the hands are above the shoulders, lift the breast bone, drop your head back and draw up the lower abdominal muscles as you allow the hips to move forward.
Exhale as lower your arms in front of your body keeping them parallel and returning to tadasana (the mountain).
Repeat all of the above stepping back with the left leg. Continue working both sides equally for at least 5 complete rounds and then gradually increase the amount of repetitions.
If you are not comfortable passing through plank from adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog). Replace the plank with majaryasana (cat), on the exhalation create a convex shape with the spine as you inhale reverse the movement concaving the spine and then pick up the second downward facing dog and continue with the rest of the sequence.
If you are new to yoga and not familiar with sun salutations a yoga vinyasa for beginners would be perfect first thing in the morning. Or you could even start your day by sitting on the edge of your bed, breathe slowly in and out through your nose, as you inhale lift your arms out to the side, keep lifting the arms until your palms join above your head. As you exhale reverse the movement, repeat ten times.