Yoga Vinyasas for Beginners by Sue FullerWhat is a Vinyasa by Sue Fuller

Sometimes deciding what type of yoga class is right for you can be confusing, especially when there are so many different classes available.

The term Vinyasa is given to any flowing yoga practise. Vinyasa classes are also named Yoga Flow or Vinyasa Flow.  You can be quite sure that within a Vinyasa style yoga class you will flow between a series of postures that are linked together by the breath.

The term breath synchronised movement might also be used to describe a Vinyasa.  Synchronising the breath and the movement is one of the objectives that practitioners are hoping to achieve whilst performing a Vinyasa.  The literal translation from Sanskrit to English of the term Vinyasa is as follows nyasa – to place and vi – in a special way. 

Quite simply a Vinyasa style yoga class is a flowing class.  Postures are connected together to form a sequence, in this style of yoga practice the breath is used to link the postures together.  A sun salutation or surya namaskar is a perfect example of a Vinyasa.  The breath links posture to posture allowing the body to move freely through a sequence.

When performing vinyasas the body is moved with care and awareness.  The breath provides a focus and assistance to help carry the body smoothly and safely through the sequence that is being performed.

Vinyasas increase mobility by moving the body through its complete range of movement.  They help to move stagnant energy around the body, improve circulation, establish and deepen a sense of union by connecting the breath and the movement.  Vinyasas encourage mindful movement which helps prevent injuries and deepens physical awareness.   Each movement follows the breath which is slow and deliberate making it possible to take time and listen to the body.  Moving like this brings awareness to any physical boundaries.

Vinyasas provide a cardio workout this varies greatly depending upon the selection of postures included in each individual vinyasa.  Vinyasas allow you to move freely, they lengthen and strengthen every muscle in the body and massage the internal organs to help move waste products through the digestive system.  As the lymphatic system relies on muscular contractions vinyasas are ideal to assist with eliminating toxins from the body. 

Vinyasas are easy to perform; here is a simple exercise to help develop the technique.  

Begin by sitting comfortably with a straight spine and the ankles crossed or you could sit on a firm chair.  Breathe slowly through your nose and focus on your alignment.  Feel that you are sitting tall and growing out through the crown of your head.  When you feel ready on an inhalation allow the arms to float out to the side until eventually you form a prayer position above your head, as you exhale lower the arms reversing the movement.  Continue for a few breaths.  Work to coordinate your breath and your movement so the arms mirror the lungs filling or emptying.  When the lungs are half full the arms should be level with your shoulders when they are full the hands should be forming a prayer position above your head.

Your goal is to experience unity between breath and movement.  Having practiced this simple exercise try to achieve the same sensation next time you perform a Vinyasa.

Vinyasa do not need to be complicated, just remember to take your time to move carefully and work to establish synchronicity between the breath and movement.

Allow your breath to carry you through the practise; the rest will fall into place.

The breath is the intelligence of the body — T.K.V. Desikachar the Son of the Great Yoga Master Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. 

Yoga Vinyasas for Improvers by Sue FullerSue Fuller is a leading yoga teacher with a range of over 60 audio yoga classes. Including Vinyasa Yoga Classes for all levels, Gentle Yoga classes for the absolute beginner and a range of beginner classes that guide you through techniques and practices to help you establish a strong foundation in Yoga.  Classes are available on both CD and MP3 from www.wellbeingworldonline.com or from www.yoga2hear.co.uk .