Vinyasa yoga, in which movement is synchronized to the breath, is a term that covers a broad range of yoga classes. This style is sometimes also called flow yoga, because of the smooth way that the poses run together and become like a dance. The breath becomes an important component because the teacher will instruct you to move from one pose to the next on an inhale or an exhale. Vinyasa is literally translated from Sanskrit as meaning "connection," according to Ellen Stansell, PhD, RYT, a scholar of yogic literature and Sanskrit. In terms of yoga asana, we can interpret this as a connection between movement and breath.
A cat-cow stretch is an example of a very simple vinyasa, because the spine is arched on an inhale and rounded on an exhale. A sun salutation sequence is an example of a more complex vinyasa. Each movement in the series is done on an inhalation or an exhalation.
What To Expect
This style allows for a lot of variety, but will almost certainly include sun salutations. Expect movement, not just stretching. Whether the class is fast or slow, includes chanting, or is very alignment-oriented will depend on the individual teacher. Some very popular yoga styles, such as Ashtanga and Power Yoga, make use of the vinyasa method, but they are most often called by their individual names for the sake of clarity.
What Does “Go Through Your Vinyasa" Mean?
When vinyasa is used as a noun, it describes a series of three poses that are done as part of a sun salutation sequence. When the teacher says, "go through the vinyasa at your own pace," she means do plank, chaturanga, and upward facing dog.
Is Vinyasa Yoga for You?
Vinyasa’s strength is in its diversity. There is no single philosophy, rulebook, or sequence that teachers must follow, so there is a lot of room for individual personalities and quirks to come through. This makes it essential that you find a teacher you enjoy and can relate to. If your first flow class doesn’t rock your world, keep trying different teachers. If you like having things a little loose and unpredictable and like to keep moving, this style is definitely worth a try.