I have always been drawn to the Vinyasa practice because I like the movement and crystal clear presence of mind I experience during and after the practice. Literally, “to place in a special way”, Vinyasa is often defined as linking breath with movement. In practice, both the use of the breath and sequencing of postures are essential to reveal the benefits. With every style of yoga the way in which we practice is paramount. Here are some concepts on how to approach the flow.
Each pose and transition should be steady and refined. Time spent in each pose and careful attention to the movement between is key to mastering this concept. With practice a single inhale or exhale in a pose will feel steady. In the beginning try staying in each pose until it feels grounded and then continue with the flow.
The body needs to find ease in each pose and transition. The check marks for this are the breath and the mind. This is where the flow comes from – the joy and serenity found in posture and movement. Ultimately, the mind/body/breath are linked, yoked, as in the meaning of the word yoga. Remember to smile throughout the practice and to soften the face (shoulders, toes, fingers, etc.), especially in particularly challenging poses and sequences.
Pranayama (Extension of the Breath/Life Force)
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of Vinyasa is maintaining a long and smooth breath. The in-breath is assigned to expansive movement, like raising the arms overhead. The out-breath is assigned to contracting movement, like forward bending. Working with the breath intentionally keeps the body safe, engages the mind and inspires the practice.
Kriya (Completed Action)
This concept brings the practice into a wider perspective. It denotes that there is a greater purpose to the action of posture and breath. Commiting to the practice – body, mind and spirit – changes the inner universe, and that changes the outer universe. It provides perspective, it softens the rough edges of personality and allows for greater clarity.
This is the end game – to become free from the illusion of fear and separateness, and, ultimately, free from the cycle of birth and death. This is the intention, however it is framed. If the intention is love, wisdom, peace or joy, it is about freedom. The practice is remembering, and there are many roads to get there.
Learn how to keep your practice safe with these tips:
How to Do a Safe and Proper Vinyasa
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