The roots of Iyengar Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga lead back to the legendary teacher, Stri T. Krishnamacharya, brother-in-law and guru to B.K.S. Iyengar and K. Pattabhi Jois.
Vinyasa Krama Yoga is an ancient system of physical, psychological, and spiritual development. The word Vinyasa describes the merging of movement and breath that exemplifies this approach. Each Asana (posture) is entered into through a movement that is coordinated with inhalation or exhalation depending on the structural effect the position has on the diaphragm and chest area. During the time the posture is held, breathing is the primary focus of attention. Usually a set number of breaths are held for each posture, which can be counted out by the teacher or silently by the student.
The mainstay of the legendary Sri T. Krishnamacharya’s teaching of hatha yoga is Vinyasa Krama in which important asanas are done with several movements leading to the posture, as well as many variations in the posture itself. Vinyasas are practiced in a logical sequence with conscious breathing and deepening mental focus, leading the student to a greater self awareness.
Vinyasa Yoga brings together the mind, body, and breath through the use of asanas, adjusted to the needs of the individual. Steady breathing (pranayama), locks to conserve and develop our personal energies (bandhas), and changing sequences that deepen as the student’s practice develops.
A typical class may begin with Sanskrit chanting, meditation, or yoga philosophy, followed by a heating sequence (often including Sun Salutations).
Vinyasa instructors are trained to assist you in multiple variations of asanas, often using props like blocks, belts, or bolsters. Practice will typically include standing, balancing, seated and inverted poses. Instructors will give you variations to accommodate individual needs or to challenge you to go deeper. Details of alignment and safe practice are emphasized, while encouraging students to evolve in their practice. Beginner to intermediate poses are to be mastered and then advanced poses will be given.
Although many of the movements and asanas are traditional, the story of Vinyasa is also the story of innovation. Vinyasa instructors bring their own individuality to the class, often using music, art and poetry alongside traditional texts. Each class is a unique blend of the teachings, culture, and individual needs of each student.
A serious Vinyasa student should endeavor to develop a daily yoga practice, but even one day a week is a good start. The practice is completely flexible, working in the softest or strongest ways, as needed. With fun, compassion, and joyfulness all levels of asana can be achieved, including even the most challenging.
Consistency in classroom attendance, bolstered by an individual personal practice is ideal. Your teacher will work with you to help you figure out what’s right for you.