Yoga Lingo: Vinyasa

Another common word you hear used in the physical practice is Vinyasa. Vinyasa roughly translates to flow or breath-synchronized movement. It is the breath that leads and creates the movement, taking our bodies from one pose to the next.

Vinyasa doesn’t simply refer to when we lower into chaturanga (push up pose, which can be modified with knees down) on an exhale, and proceed to lift up into urdhva mukha svanasana (upward facing dog) or bhujangasana (cobra pose) on an inhale. It refers to any time we transition from one posture to the next led by the breath; whether done in sun salutations (a sequence of posture done to warm the body from the inside out and prepare us for deeper poses), or simply the progression of class that systematically and appropriately takes us from one point and safely lands us to the next point.

The benefits of vinyasa are that physically it warms and re-energizes the body; while mentally, the synchronized breathing relaxes the mind.  The idea is that while flowing we find the peak of the pose at the peak of the breath, as well as the bottom of the pose at the bottom of the breath. First we must slow down and control the length of the breath so that within the duration of one inhalation or exhalation we can take our bodies from one pose to the next. Thus we can move with both precision and grace, eliminating strain and force. When vinyasa is done properly it perpetuates that balance between effort and ease that we aim to achieve in a yoga practice.