What is Vinyasa Yoga?
Like most Sanskrit words the english translation can have many meanings.
In modern yoga the word ‘Vinyasa’ has become synonymous with the Ashtanga Vinyasa method of Mysore for its’ ‘breath-movement system’.
However the word ‘Vinyasa’ also means ‘placement’ and so refers to the correct placement of the breath, body and posture within a yoga practice.
This hints at the skill needed to practice efficiently and with the correct knowledge of what goes where and when to do what etc in any given practice.
Another definition of the word is ‘step by step’ which refers to the slow, deliberation nature of progressing further only when one step has been mastered is the next taken.
This is a hard process for the modern mind to adhere to. The use of different mediums has afforded us a preview of nearly all styles of yoga before we even take our first class and so from the very beginning the mind can become confused as to what exactly yoga is.
In modern day yoga most people find themselves in a group class practicing a style with a particular theme. For example it may be a vigorous flowing practice or a slow moving alignment based practice. In ancient times the yogis of India most likely practiced alone with their teacher and were given the correct postures and only those specific to their individual needs and blockages. Unfortunately this way of obtaining knowledge is hard to find and so we find ourselves doing the same postures as everyone else. There is security in this way of practicing but after some time (possibly years) the practice becomes stale and tired because the mindy/body has not moved on from its attachment to doing a particular class or style. We may like the routine but the process of absorption within the Self, as yoga promises, is not a linear destination but an ever evolving dynamic activity.
As Vinyasa also means ‘step by step’ the approach to the practice must be progressive, dynamic and also cater to the needs of the individuals limitations. Forcing or pushing the body into poses it is not ready for, over-use of alignment techniques and under- use of the bodies natural movement patterns leads to injury and disillusionment. For the practice to continually evolve the mind must pay keen attention to the activity while addressing the inherent blockages and patterns imposed upon our bodies.