Most definitely I am a Vinyāsa person and very likely I have been vinyasasing through all my life, long before I meet yoga. We all are in different ways though..
Ok, sometimes the flow gets distracted, we come back to a ‘safe’ place and here we go again.. but as we all know so well, we can not get rid of mind patterns and habits easily, it needs hard work, perseverance and support.
There are more than one definitions of Vinyāsa in Yoga as well as Yoga itself. For sure, when an idea, an action, an activity, a feeling whatever that is, is getting turbulent or vague, it’s time to put things into perspective.
The actual meaning of the word in Sanskrit is the combination of the 2 words — ‘nyasa’ = to place (the root is ‘ās’) and ‘vi’ = in a special way. The ‘nyasa’ word shows the stability when something is placed and is fixed, like also the word āsana which is actually the sitting position. The prefix ‘vi’ would show the variety, the variation, that something is transformed and it is done in a special way.
So for me, here is why – up to date- I love Vinyāsa:
1. Co-ordination of movement and breath
”Follow your breath” you will often hear in yoga classes!
It is all about a breath-centred āsana practice where the breath is in coordination with the movement harmoniously. As if the breath ‘embraces’ the movement, ‘masters’ the movement, envelops the movement. How the breath fluctuates along with body? What does this movement of the breath say? Is it long or short? Is it calm or erratic?
Try and repeat this very simple movement:
INHALE – Begin the IN first, then start lifting the arms over the head, the movement finishes before the end of IN – look up and stay
EXHALE – Begin the EX first, then start lowering the arms at the sides, the movement finishes before the end of the EX – chin down and stay
You can try reversing the pattern if you wish as in: the movement ‘embraces’ the breath. In reality, the body remains soft and structured around the breath movement and as you repeat it on and on, you are meditating into something very real, intimate, with something very valuable that is already there. You are not looking for something to be revealed because everything is already there!
2. Μaking Yoga accessible to all
Yoga, as a breath-centred āsana practice, is accessible to everyone who breathes/ or indeed the same applies when we …”take a Vinyāsa”! A short or a longer one. A simple or a more challenging one ** thus, the body, the breath and the mind come into more integrated state. The teacher evaluates the level of the student, their needs and then structures an adequate class. Understanding even deeper what Vinyāsa is, there is a constant need to study, to learn, to practice! In reality, there is nothing ever ‘to be done’. Rather, it is a never ending journey of being present, learning to feel more, to respond into these feelings more, to navigate towards care, kindness, intelligence and love… Step by step, there is an expansion of awareness and we come to face with our limitations and resistances, intentions and differences that exist in bodies and minds; and as the awareness is expanding, automatically the positive aspects will prevail.
3. Moving is art
I love Vinyāsa because there is a great potential to bring out an artistic expression through movement where anyone can really gets involved in. Vinyāsa is a word that you will not find it exclusively as a term in Yoga in India, but also in poetry, dance, mantras, classical music. In Chennai there is an art gallery called Vinyāsa gallery. The word vinyāsa is also used in the sense of an art form.
4. Concept of Vinyāsa Krama
There is context, plenty of tools, there are numerous texts to help experiencing the practice Yoga as it is, as a natural progression. The Yoga sutras and the aṣṭāṅga yoga, the yamas and niyamas are firmly established as we progress. Asana practice helps to have a good control over one’s body, reducing rajas; then prānayāma starts working with the mind, reducing tamas…gradually we become more sattvic (clear mind)…and there is a progression to reach the final goal, which in these terms is Samadhi. This is a practical idea to bring it to the tasks of our everyday lives with short or long term goals. Gradually and with careful and considerate steps (krama) we proceed towards a certain goal, progress into sensations and patterns that are new, reflect on any changes and taking the essential counter-steps on the way – this is the concept of Vinyāsa krama.
5. Vinyāsa in every expression
I like to practice Yoga as an experience and as such, it is important to appreciate where we are coming from and going to as a personalised process. For us and our students…It is a beautiful way to rediscover opposing patterns and see how we react to them..expansion and compression, tension and relaxation. Physical movement which is done mindfully is a beautiful expression of the deeper part of the mind. There is a great potential there on how we react to impacts that come from the past, what exists in the present moment and how all this will determine the shape of our future.
6. Deepening our intention
Linking movement to breath is deepening our intention (i.e. internal awareness, create heat, energetic effects etc)..In a pose, rather than worrying about what the external form looks like, I turn focus to the nature of my breath. I allow my breath to move my body. In reality, as we move deeper, we realise the magic of simplicity. There is no magical sequence that will force an experience; it is this experience we may feel that will arise spontaneously when we lose ourselves into the present moment.
7. Concept of constant change, impermanence (parinama)
What is the difference of a sequential movement and stretching from .. Yoga?
It is the notion of impermanence that follows the movement which is performed dynamically along with the breath. It is the idea that we move from point A -> point B -> point C etc. intelligently, consciously, safely, effectively and we know that something has changed along the way, there has been a transformation in a way, things start getting modified in a chosen way (Parinama).
Yes, transformation. Yoga transforms the mind, the chitta. Distraction and Attention interplay every single moment this is why we don’t feel the same way in every yoga class. When attention prevails, our pose is serene, our breathing is quiet and we are absorbed with our object of meditation (the object can be a word, a thought, a mantra anything that we choose to meditate upon). The opposite happens in the state of distraction where our pose and breath is irregular and unbalanced. By sustained yoga practice, we extend the time of attention and focus (the vikshipta mind becomes ekagrata), we acquire awareness of what we are capable of doing but also of the distractions and interruptions as reality (satvada); we accept the changes (parinama) with a serene state of mind without wondering, without questions, therefore without fear.
I’m looking forward to meeting Srivatsa Saraswami sir in person for the intensive course this February for more Vinyāsa Krama !♥♥¡¡