As we discussed in Yoga Lingo: Vinyasa, Vinyasa translates to flow, or breath- synchronized movement. In a yoga class it's a blast to flow, letting your breath move you from pose-to-pose. It warms you up, builds your energy, and can be a creative, stimulating, even an empowering experience. It's almost like a dance, linked to the breath, that can put you in a trance. But why do we do it? Yes, it warms the body in order to be prepared for deeper posture. However, we can warm ourselves in other ways: such as holding plank or boat pose, and even cranking the temperature of the room. So what is the deeper significance of Vinyasa?
Vinyasa has everything to do with transitions. It is the space in between that makes the flow happen. To parallel our practice on the mat to our lives, Vinyasa is how we get through our days, the transition from place-to-place, from work-to home-to the yoga studio. It is also the story of our lives and how we got where we are today through transitions, through doing, through movement. When told in a story it may seem seamless but in actuality there are still parts, challenging parts, and places where you took a pause and broke from the flow.
On the mat we practice how to properly transition from pose-to-pose while connected to the breath to prepare us for the flow of our lives. In the Vinyasa flow we do not move with the use of momentum. Doing so makes the movement messy, there is risk of injury, there is loss of breath, and there is loss of presence. When you skip or shorten the challenging parts, alignment is lost, the flow is broken, and there is less appreciation for the countering parts to that intensity. Sometime we must pause the flow to give our bodies rest and to reconnect. What we try to do is allow the breath to create the flow, so that each transition gets one full complete inhale or exhale. No shortcuts. We are attempting to articulate the movement with precision, thoughtfulness, and awareness. This way we can protect our bodies, become stronger, and create a deeper mind/body connection.
Thus, in the transitions we are more present. Rather than commuting to work distracted, (maybe at the same time trying to eat breakfast or dictate emails) we can instead make it a practice of presence. Sit comfortably behind the driver seat, feel your legs grounded, your back supported, and focus on minting a relaxed breath. Avoid using momentum and flying past the uncomfortable parts. We can be present of the movement and chaos in the world around us while still maintaining connection to our bodies and breath. This helps us to keep calm, cool, and relaxed on the inside, while alert, and interactive to the outside. When we transition this way we create a balance between effort and ease, uninfluenced by stress. Practice Vinayasa properly on the mat so it can influence life off the mat.