Vinyasa Yoga: All You Need To Know – Postures, Sequences, & More
Vinyasa Yoga is a sequence of postures that you perform one by one, and that is what makes it one of the unique types of Yoga. Because you move from one posture to another posture in one continuous motion, it is also called Flow Yoga or Vinyasa Flow Yoga.
Today, we will talk about what are the postures and their sequences to follow for Vinyasa Yoga. How is it different from hatha yoga, and what are some of the benefits of Vinyasa Yoga. So, stay tuned.
What is Vinyasa Yoga?
As mentioned, Vinyasa Yoga is moving from one pose to another directly. There is always a flow of specific poses and sequences you need to follow. However, depending on the sources you refer to, these sequences can differ from one another.
Many consider Ashtanga Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga the same. Now, some of the elements of both types of Yogas are the same, but Ashtanga Yoga has a fixed sequence all the time regardless of the source. On the other hand, Vinyasa Yoga can be different from teacher to teacher.
The transition from one pose to another is anchored and coordinated with your breathing. You inhale and exhale as you are performing specific postures. This will make you feel that your body is ‘flowing’ with your breathing patterns. There is also a fast-paced version of Vinyasa Yoga called Power Vinyasa Yoga. In some cases, they are believed to be challenging to perform.
Characteristics of Vinyasa Flow Yoga
Vinyasa Yoga will connect the next posture to your current posture using your breathing pattern. This characteristic makes it the flow of Yoga. Here, you will not break the posture to go into the second one like the other forms of Yoga.
The movements between those two postures are called ‘transitions’. Sometimes, they can also be called in-between postures. If you are just a beginner, the Vinyasa Yoga transitions will not be as smooth as you would like. It is a skill that is developed over time as you practice it more and more.
These transitions or movements between the postures are done with synchronization of your breathing. Breathing in or out will initiate the movement.
Breathing in and out through your nose in a rhythm is one of the most used breathing techniques of Vinyasa flow Yoga. It helps with feeling relaxed. The technique is called Ujjayi Breath.
At times, Vinyasa Yoga will make you feel warmer and it can take your body temperature up. However, it should not be too warm for your comfort. The heat generated with these movements can take your heart rate up, which helps you in burning some calories. Here are some of the more benefits of Vinyasa Yoga.
Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga
- Vinyasa Yoga postures can help you with your muscles and flexibility. It can work as a workout and at the same time, can help you with your balance and flexibility.
- As mentioned above, it is a good cardiovascular activity. You can add to your warm-up before your workout, or it can be your whole workout depending on your needs. It works on the most major muscles in your body.
- With flexibility, it will help you move the way you never could before. Like touching your toes. It will make space for more movement of your body. However, take it slow when it comes to flexibility, as there are chances of injuries.
- Vinyasa Yoga can help you settle your mind and bring calmness. Just like a meditative process, it is a culmination of body movements anchored by your breathing. This will help you clear the mental chatter.
- With a calm mind and reduced anxiety, you will be able to sleep better. Both mentally and physically, Vinyasa Yoga will help you release tension. This will lead to a better sleep cycle.
6.Vinyasa Yoga helps in fending off negative thoughts and experiencing emotional stability. Moving from one pose to another helps you take an objective look at situations.
- Since Vinyasa Yoga can be a cardiovascular exercise, it will help you in lowering your cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. For those who cannot perform a high-intensity workout, this is a boon.
- It helps with a better posture. If you are on your phone or computer all day, Vinyasa Yoga can help you improve your body posture. This will help in better spine and neck positioning. It will also ease the back pain if you have any.
- Breathing is an important part of Vinyasa Yoga. When you practice it regularly, it will help you breathe better.
- Vinyasa Yoga can help you feel energetic throughout the day. It is a restorative practice that helps you wake your body.
- Vinyasa Yoga can be your first step to a healthy lifestyle, and understand your body better. Later on, you can progress with more healthy habits to achieve your goals.
- Vinyasa Yoga workout can help you lose weight. However, it is a long-term process and you will have to keep an eye on other lifestyle choices you make if you want to lose weight. In short, Vinyasa Yoga helps you in losing weight but combined with other practices.
- Not only weight loss by activity, but it can also help you with emotional eating. Emotional eating is one of the prominent reasons for weight gain. Vinyasa Yoga can help you curb that.
- Just like meditation, Vinyasa Yoga improves your attention span and even trains your mind to be more focused. This will help you with more mental and physical stability.
- Vinyasa yoga will teach you to be comfortable with your body. You will be less conscious about your body image as there are options to set your limits. You can go with the safety-first approach and skip the postures that are too dangerous for you. You can even approach them at your own pace if you want to.
Now that we have convinced you why Vinyasa Yoga is wonderful, let’s understand it a little more before we move on to postures and sequences of Vinyasa Yoga.
Hatha Vs Vinyasa Yoga: How Are They Different?
Because they share several same poses, people often wonder what is the difference between Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga. Let’s discuss it.
The biggest difference you can identify is the pace of both Yoga types. Hatha yoga is done at a much slower pace than Vinyasa Yoga. Whereas Vinyasa Yoga demands more breathing control compared to Hatha Yoga.
As Vinyasa Yoga flows through the postures and poses are changed quickly; therefore stretching and flexibility are not that much touched in Vinyasa Yoga. In Hatha Yoga, stretching and flexibility are two important components.
Vinyasa Yoga, on the other hand, is a cardiovascular workout.
How to Choose between Hatha & Vinyasa Yoga?
If you are new to Yoga and not familiar with how to hold yoga poses for long, Hatha Yoga may be for you.
If you have a good level of fitness, want to work on cardio and your muscle strength, Vinyasa Yoga is for you.
For those who want a fast-paced workout that can challenge them, Vinyasa Yoga may fit better. On the flip side, if a slower pace is your thing, go for Hatha Yoga.
Vinyasa Yoga Postures
With the right sequences, there are hundreds of Vinyasa Yoga postures that you can integrate into your process. However, we are focusing on some beginner Vinyasa Yoga poses and some intermediate ones. Here are some of the most popular Vinyasa Yoga postures and how to perform them.
1. Surya Namaskar
Surya Namaskar is a sequence of twelve steps or twelve asanas. They are done in a particular sequence as illustrated below. Surya Namaskar is by far the most popular way to get into Vinyasa Yoga. For more details on Surya Namaskar, click here.
2. Bidalasana (Cat-cow Posture)
The cat-cow pose is the blend of two poses. You begin with a cow pose as shown below. Keep your chin and chest in the air, and your face facing the ceiling.
In cat pose, bring your belly back to your spine and round the back towards the ceiling as shown below. It should look like a cat stretching its back.
3. Vasisthasana (Side-plank)
Here, you balance your posture with both arms straight and your body on one side. The upper arm should be stretched as far as possible and the upper leg can be in the air or can rest on the other leg. Keep your face towards the upper hand.
4. Uttanasana (Standing forward)
You lean forward as much as you can with your knees keeping stretched. Bring your hands as low as you can. With practice, you can keep your palms on the floors behind your heels.
5. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Lie down on your stomach and lift your upper body in the air using your arms as shown in the picture below. Keep the back arched backwards and your arms as straight as possible. Keep your chin high and the gaze a little backward.
6. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
Keep your head down as low as you can. Put the weight of your body on your hands and feet. The arms should stretch forward and with your legs straight, lift your hips as high as possible. See the image below for a better understanding of this Vinyasa Yoga pose.
7. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog)
Just like bhujangasana, lie down on your stomach and lift your upper body. Keep your legs stretched straight and toes out. With your weight on the arms, try to lift your hips off the ground. Look straight with your neck arched back. See the image below for a better understanding of the pose.
8. Chaturanga Dandasana (Low Plank)
This is one of the harder poses to perform. Keep your hands and feet on the floor and support your body in the air. It should be parallel to the floor, but not touching it. Keep your hands back, near your pelvis, by the side of your body.
9. Tadasana (Mountain pose)
Keep your feet together with toes touching and heels apart. Put your weight equally on both your feet. Lift and spread your toes and bring them down slowly. It is a basic standing pose where you will try to straighten and elongate your spine. Here is an illustration.
10. Savasana (Corpse Pose)
If you are even slightly familiar with Yoga, you will know what Savasana is. Lie on your back with your legs spread comfortably. Keep your arms relaxed on your side and eyes closed. Consciously, find any tension in your body and try to release the tension breath by breath.
Vinyasa Flow Sequences / Vinyasa Krama
Krama is translated to sequence or the steps of doing certain things. The first references of these go back to Vedic periods.
There are thousands of combinations you can try with Vinyasa Yoga with changing the poses and the sequences. Here, we will discuss two of them. One for the beginners and another will be a little advanced version of that, on the intermediate level. Let’s start with Beginners.
Vinyasa Yoga for Beginners
This is done on the mat, and you will start with savasana. After that, you can follow the sequence below.
1. Savasana with Bent Legs
Bend your knees as seen in the picture below.
Pull your legs up and hold them close to your chest, pressing your abdomen. Breathing in and out. Try to touch your knees with your chin.
3. Supta Tadasana
Release your legs and let them lie down on the mat shoulder-width apart. Now, lift your arms and raise them above your heel like you are performing a hastasana while lying down. Keep them parallel to each other while touching your ears with your arms.
4. Pada Sanchalanasana
Lift your legs in the air and make the cycling motion while keeping your back on the floor.
5. Chakra Padasana
This involves rotating your legs clockwise and counterclockwise. Most times, you rotate 10 times in one direction for one leg. You can repeat it with both legs as long as you like.
Repeat Pawanmuktasana as described in Step 2.
7. Ardha Ananda Balasana
Called half baby pose, you lift one of your legs from your hip while lying down on your back and hold it at the right angle with help of your hand as shown below.
Intermediate Vinyasa Yoga Sequence
Perform Tadasana as it is described above, under Vinyasa Postures. Here is an image for reference.
2. Ujjayi Pranayama
It is also known as ocean breathing. In Ujjayi breathing, you will try to contract or clench the back of your throat to take long breaths. This is done by both inhaling and exhaling for long and deep. Try to perform it first with a cross-legged position and once you are familiar with it, you can use it during your Vinyasa Flow Yoga.
3. Urdhva Hastasana
Stand in a pose of Tadasana and stretch your hands upwards. The gaze will also be up. Here is how to perform it.
4. Parsva Bhanga (Palm Tree Pose Side Bend)
As the name suggests, you keep Urdhva hastasana and bend from your hips on the one side. Remember to keep your hands away from your ears and your finger interlaced as shown in the image below.
5. Parshva Urdhva Hastasana
From the previous pose, bring your fingers together to fold your hands and create a salute. This is also called the upward salute side bend pose.
6. Side Bend Pose
Being in the same position, bring one of your arms down, and stretch the other one as far as you can. Refer to the image below.
Come back to Tadasana, step one in this Vinyasa Yoga Sequence.
8. Anuvittasana (Standing Back Bend)
As the name suggests, in this asana, you keep your feet shoulder-width apart and put your hands on your hips. Slowly bend your back backwards. Let this image help you.
Power Vinyasa Flow Yoga is a strong, energetic style of yoga where, when breathing is linked to your movements. It also includes fluidly shifting from one pose to the next. This style of yoga, just like hot Yoga, is taught in a heated studio. This makes it a physical exercise that is intense and revitalizing. In one session, you can combine strength, flexibility, balance, aerobic, and physical and mental endurance.
As your body adapts to the movements over time, you can vary your intensity to get the maximum out of your Power Vinyasa Yoga.
There are several benefits of Power Vinyasa Yoga. It will help you with better oxygenation and blood circulation. It will also lower your pulse rate as your heart will be strong enough to pump more blood at a slow rate. It also improves the respiratory efficiency of your lungs. Since it is a high-intensity form of Vinyasa Yoga, it will help you develop cardiovascular endurance. Power Vinyasa Yoga can also boost your immunity and can help you with pain tolerance. Last but not the least, it will boost up your metabolism, helping you with better absorption of nutrients and weight loss.
In conclusion, Vinyasa Yoga is a perfect blend of traditional Yoga poses and the modern need for a high-intensity, fast-paced workout. It is a good stepping stone for beginners to try out. However, at times it can lead to an injury or two. Always make sure you are learning it from the right guide. You can try several combinations of Vinyasa Krama or sequences according to your needs and preferences. Have a great experience trying out Vinyasa Yoga.