Last updated on October 20th, 2023.
Generally, we all hint at how beneficial yoga is to not only your mental health but also your physical and emotional health. Vinyasa yoga is among the most commonly practiced types, especially for intermediate yogis. Vinyasa yoga combines movement (asanas) and the breath to keep you flowing from one posture to the other. For example, you breathe in while moving to Downward Dog, then breathe out when taking the Chaturanga Dandasana pose. That’s how Vinyasa flow combines the breath with postures.
Since Vinyasa yoga is among the most common types of yoga, if you’re a yoga practitioner, you’ve most likely done it more than once. There are many benefits of yoga. Even though it’s not meant to be a workout, it still helps strengthen muscles and make you lean. The postures you’re supposed to partake in, will make you stronger and more flexible. While all this is happening to your physical body, your mental health will also become better, and so will your emotional health.
What is the difference between Vinyasa and yoga?
There are different types of yoga, but you can easily differentiate one from the other. What sets Vinyasa yoga apart from other types of yoga is the pace at which you practice it. For example, if you compare Hatha yoga with Vinyasa yoga, you’ll notice that it moves you through postures and each breath in or out, which means a change of posture, which makes it quite fast. On the other hand, Hatha yoga is relatively slow. It is more focused on controlled movements and stretching. Once a beginner has mastered Hatha yoga, it’s always assured that they’ll move to Vinyasa yoga because they’ve already mastered the poses and won’t get into bad form.
We can also check for the difference between Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga. Ashtanga yoga follows a set of sequences of poses. This means, unlike Hatha and Vinyasa yoga, you can’t customize this type of yoga. You have to follow the poses to the latter. Its beauty is that everyone around the globe is practicing the same things in the same sequence. As you can see, Vinyasa yoga is quite different from all the other types of yoga, and each type is unique.
So, what exactly is Vinyasa yoga?
To define Vinyasa yoga easily, you can say it’s a faster Hatha yoga and a more freestyle Ashtanga yoga. Vinyasa yoga uses the breath to lead you from one posture to the next. When practicing Vinyasa yoga, you must be in a constant flow of movements. How fast the flow is depends on the instructor. You’ll also find that the instructor is the one that decides which posture follows the other one. Vinyasa is more customized to meet the student’s needs.
In most ways, Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga are similar. But the core difference between the two is that Ashtanga yoga follows a specific set of poses from beginning to end while Vinyasa yoga doesn’t. While practicing Vinyasa yoga, you’ll most likely feel like the breath is carrying your body from one pose to the next. A fast-paced Vinyasa class can be pretty challenging, and you might leave class a sweaty mess, but who doesn’t like a bit of a challenge?
What is the purpose of Vinyasa yoga?
The main aim of Vinyasa yoga is to use your breath to align the body and the mind. The more you keep practicing Vinyasa yoga, the stronger your mind-body connection will get. Additionally, Vinyasa is relatively fast-paced, and you’ll realize that you’ll become more flexible and stronger as you keep up your practice.
Vinyasa yoga is also considered a “moving meditation” because of how the breath leads everything in this practice. How this type of yoga is practiced can bring about fluidity, harmony, balance, and grace. As you move, you’ll notice how you move and what is moving you, which is the main aim of the practice. You will end up becoming more present, a goal that’s also achieved through meditation.
Is Vinyasa good for beginners?
Vinyasa is mainly considered “flowing” because of how movements are combined with breath. While Vinyasa is a bit fast-paced, it would be necessary for a beginner to start with Hatha yoga, so they know the postures before getting into Vinyasa yoga. Alternatively, you can take a ‘beginners Vinyasa class’ if your yoga studio offers that. Such a class is more mindful, allowing you to catch up and learn how to move from one posture to the next using your breath.
So, just like any other type of yoga, Vinyasa yoga is suitable for beginners. If you have a one-on-one class with your instructor, you can explain that you’re a beginner, and they’ll help you by explaining the poses, alignment, and transitions as thoroughly as they can. But if you’re learning yoga as a beginner from the internet, like YouTube, you need to start with Hatha yoga to get your alignment right, then move into Vinyasa yoga.
What can I expect from a vinyasa yoga class?
As a beginner at yoga, you should expect to experience various postures using your breath. You may also find some postures to be unfamiliar. Most Vinyasa classes begin with an “intention-setting” practice and then end in final relaxation. But in between the two, you should expect something different depending on the instructor. This means that in some classes, the teacher will only mention the pose you should get into, while in other classes, the instructor will explain further how to do the pose.
What’s essential in a Vinyasa class is to practice according to what your body allows. Just because everyone can do a certain pose doesn’t mean you should on the first try. Just let your body guide you, and you’ll get better with time. Sometimes you may need to sit down and take a breather, which is acceptable because it shows how respectful you’re to your body. After a Vinyasa class, expect to feel like you have a clear mind, it’s like you’d put it on break, and you’ll also feel quite relieved and energetic.
3 Great Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga
Vinyasa yoga has many benefits; some are unique to this type of yoga, while others are general, and you’ll gain them from any form of yoga.
1. Improves energy levels and strength
Vinyasa yoga improves energy levels because as you practice asanas and pranayama, the body releases endorphins, reduces negative thoughts going through your mind, and increases blood flow to the brain. Yoga also helps correct poor posture, which is known to cause lower energy levels.
When practicing yoga, you’ll also realize that it helps you gain more strength in different parts of the body. For example, core strength can only be gained by involving your core muscles when taking postures, which also helps stabilize the spine, preventing the lower back from straining. There are various postures in Vinyasa yoga that help strengthen your core, helping you build strength and stability.
By practicing Vinyasa yoga frequently, you’re also keeping injuries at bay. Proper mobility improves posture and strength, preventing you from being injured while partaking in your daily chores or activities. The fast-paced aspect of Vinyasa yoga allows you to increase your range of motion because it strengthens your muscles while also building healthy mobility.
2. Promotes relaxation
While Vinyasa yoga is great for flexibility and strength, it also is good for the mind. When practicing Vinyasa, you’ll be able to unwind, focus on the present moment and gain clarity. In a Vinyasa yoga class, you’ll notice that you’ll have to leave your emotional baggage outside since it’s vigorous, giving you no time to engage your negative thoughts and feelings. By the end of the yoga class, you’ll be feeling lighter both physically and mentally, which will improve your mood. Most yoga instructors will also help you focus more on positive thinking and positive mantras, which will give you a better outlook on life and your problems.
We tend to hold most of our tension in the body, and Vinyasa yoga helps release most of these tensions. If you always have trouble falling and staying asleep, you must try Vinyasa yoga. You will be able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Vinyasa yoga has mindful breathing techniques and fluid movement, which helps ease tension in the body and worry in your mind which will help you later on fall asleep quickly.
3. Lowers stress levels
As mentioned before, Vinyasa yoga is more like “moving meditation.” What this means is an excellent exercise for your mind. Moving through poses and sequences requires focus, concentration, and deep breathing. By practicing all three, you’ll notice that your mind becomes calmer, and there’s a reduction in stress levels. If you have lots of stress at work and need a stress-reliever, then Vinyasa yoga is one way to go about it.
One way of reducing stress levels is by having stable emotions. Vinyasa yoga helps with emotional stability by calming the nervous system and importing your sense of well-being. You will learn self-acceptance and self-love, and this, in turn, makes you more conscious and loving towards yourself. The more you expand your consciousness, the more balanced and at peace you become. This practice will give you a route to turn to every time you experience emotional distress and negativity.
Vinyasa yoga is a great practice that improves physical, mental, and emotional health. Once you start exploring this type of yoga, you will find various classes offering different things. For example, you can find Vinyasa yoga combined with Yin Yoga or Hot yoga. Either way, you will find something that suits your current and future goals while practicing Vinyasa yoga.
It doesn’t matter which type of yoga you choose to practice. The main goal is to do it regularly to enjoy its immense benefits on your health and life. Ensure you get proper yoga instruction when starting yoga to prevent injuries. Injuries may cause you more harm than good. If you’re already suffering from specific injuries, you’ll need an instructor who will customize your Vinyasa yoga practice to suit your needs and help relieve the pain.