What is vinyasa flow yoga?Oct 12, 2022
What is vinyasa yoga, flow yoga, or vinyasa flow yoga? These are all things you might see on any yoga studio schedule in America. Sometimes, reading a yoga studio schedule can feel like a mystery. What do all of these words mean, and how do you choose a yoga class to attend, especially if you’re a beginner?
First of all, most of those words all refer to the same style of yoga. This style of yoga was the invention of the world famous yoga teacher T. Krishnamacharya. Vinyasa flow yoga is meant to be a style of yoga practice that places emphasis on moving the body and breath in a rhythmic pattern. Every movement is paired with an inhale and an exhale. There is an emphasis on linking the movements together with the breath.
Oftentimes in this style of yoga, you’ll take sun salutations that create a rhythm and flow of the breath. It gets the body moving through all of the ranges of movement and serves as a full body warm up. In this way, the body is awakening and the breath is flowing in and out. This is different from a style of yoga class that places emphasis on static poses, or does not link the poses together through sun salutations. In a vinyasa flow style class the poses are linked together with frequent sun salutations. This can make a flow style class feel challenging and even quite athletic.
Flow yoga is often referred to as a moving meditation. This is something that is better experienced than explained. It’s more likely to happen when you have been attending these types of classes for a while and you understand the basic form of the postures. It’s challenging as a beginner to find this style of movement meditative when you are unsure of what you’re doing, or too focused on the teacher, what’s being taught, and how other students in the class are moving. I’ve taught many yoga beginners, and I find this is true for many yoga newbies.
Flow is the absence of resistance. When a person is in a “flow state,” there is a sense of being connected with oneself and the world around them. It’s the feeling of going with the flow, rather than swimming upstream against the current. When you are in the experience of flow state, your mind may quiet and you focus on the sound of your own breath and the movements. You aren’t thinking about your day, or even so much of what’s happening around you in the class. There is a sense of ease and “going with the flow.” This is what I would describe as a flow state or moving meditation. You feel a sense of presence, peace, and ease.
Personally, I teach and practice vinyasa flow style yoga. This is my favorite way to practice yoga. I have experienced a lot of inconsistency when attending other yoga studios or yoga teachers classes. Sometimes classes are very fast, or the emphasis is placed on the poses in such a way that feels like it’s a choreographed dance. You might not hear any reference to the breath at all. I prefer not to practice with music in my flow yoga classes, because the breath is my guide. Loud music, or music with lyrics can become very distracting when trying to meditate. I like to practice and listen to the sound of my breath and the breath of other students. This serves as a reminder of the present moment, and our shared experience of being human in a body.
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