“A photographer gets people to pose for him. A yoga instructor gets people to pose for themselves.” - T. Guillemets

Of all the different sporting activities popping up in the UK, yoga is becoming one of the most popular. Lots of yoga classes are springing up in towns up and down the country and letting go and achieving mindfulness have never been more popular.

There are multiple types of yoga practice available, such as ashtanga yoga,hatha yoga or Bikram yoga (or hot yoga) some more interesting than others that correspond to different levels, abilities, or expectations of what a yoga session should entail. Amongst these different styles of yoga, we find Vinyasa yoga, which is becoming more and more popular.

But what exactly is this style of yoga with its breathing exercises and muscular reinforcement?

You’ll find the answers to these questions and more throughout this article.

The Origins of Vinyasa Yoga

What’s better than mastering a discipline that we want to practise or that we find really interesting?

Nothing, let me tell you. The origins and foundations of the practice are really important because they can help any aspiring yogi understand exactly what to expect.

Where can you find Vinyasa yoga classes?
Whether you're a beginner or an expert, yoga classes are for everyone. (Source: shushipu)

There’s Bikram yoga, traditional yoga, prenatal yoga, yoga for kids, dynamic yoga, to name a few, and some types of yoga are very specialised and only familiar to those who actually practise it. This is probably the case with Vinyasa yoga as it’s not the first type of yoga that most people think of.

So what exactly is “Vinyasa”?

It’s pretty simple, actually. It’s two words that have come together to form a new word. The first term, Nyasa, means “to place”. The second term is also a Sanskrit term and it means “in a specific way”. So basically, rather than saying “to place in a specific way”, you can say “Vinyasa” and it represents what we’re doing.

Since we don’t often use terms such as pranayama, Ashtanga, or Kundalini every day in the West, it can be useful to understand what they mean as it can help us better understand what to expect during a yoga session. Thus, “to place in a specific way” implies that this type of yoga will include muscular strengthening or maybe even mindfulness. Let’s have a look.

Vinyasa yoga originated from Ashtanga yoga, which is why it’s often also called “Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga”. The success of Vinyasa yoga is probably down to how effective the sequences of poses (asana) are and how each one can be so different from the previous one.

Vinyasa yoga was born in India on the grounds of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. It was created by Pattabhi Jois and introduced to the West during the 1960s.

After its immediate success, especially in the United States of America, this yoga technique started to be modified and changed over the course of the years and adopted the name “Vinyasa Flow Yoga” owing to the essential philosophy of calm fluid movement and an emphasis on the flow between the different yoga poses.

Vinyasa yoga started gaining traction in Europe in the 1980s. It’s a simple way to strengthen muscles, meditate, do breathing exercises, and enjoy the other benefits of yoga in a style that is constantly growing in the United States and around the world.

What are the benefits of Vinyasa yoga?
Whether you do it in a class or on your own, Vinyasa yoga comes with many benefits. (Source: janeb13)

Vinyasa yoga just goes to show that any yoga discipline can spring up and gain success as long as it still respects the core principles of traditional yoga.

But what is it that makes Vinyasa yoga different from traditional yoga?

You’re about to find out!

The Specificities of Vinyasa Yoga

Synchronisation is at the heart of Vinyasa yoga.

Synchronisation is all well and good, but what exactly are we supposed to be synchronising?

You don’t need to go on a yoga retreat to understand it. Vinyasa yoga classes and workshops will quickly show you what we mean: it’s the synchronisation of your movements as you breathe, to put it simply!

What accessories do you need for Vinyasa yoga?
While not exactly essential for Vinyasa yoga, a mat can be very useful. (Source: pixelcreatures)

In fact, the difference between a painful pose (or posture) and an easy pose is often whether or not you’re correctly controlling your breathing. Controlling your breathing and using the right breathing techniques can help you to move metaphorical mountains when it comes to yoga.

Thus, each movement has a different breathing technique allowing us to progress. It can allow us to hold a position with less effort and without twisting or tensing, manage stress, and also be aware of the here and now.

So are you interested in learning to do yoga?

The basic idea is to let your breathing guide your movement in such a way so that it is the guiding force behind our actions, controls the rhythm, and allows us to move more fluidly as ballet dancers. Additionally, it can help us eliminate toxins and put together harmonious sequences of asanas.

After just a few exercises, you’ll see that Vinyasa yoga is both a meditative practice and a sporting activity that can help build and tone muscle. You can actually relax and tone at the same time. But first, you should be aware of the effects of Vinyasa yoga and the postures you’re going to adapt.

The Effects of Vinyasa Yoga

It goes without saying that yoga is often used to manage stress while working out. Vinyasa yoga is no exception as it works almost every muscle in your body and helps you become more flexible all while working on your mind and spirit at the same time.

What are the effects of Vinyasa yoga?
Vinyasa yoga can help you re-centre in a clear and effective way. (Source: jesslef)

Whether you’re in a gym or sports hall or not, the principles of yoga are the same, even when you’re doing Vinyasa yoga. If you take a free Vinyasa yoga tutorial, for example, you’ll soon realise what the effects and benefits of this type of yoga are. You can’t argue with getting healthier while also managing stress.

In order to tone muscle and improve your balance, you’re going to chain together several yoga poses. Some are more difficult than others and you have to hold that position. By practising regularly, you’ll soon be able to hold these poses without too much difficulty.

You don’t need to throw in the towel if you mess up. By controlling your breathing, you’ll soon be able to make these poses much easier to achieve as it's your breathing that will guide you and facilitate your movements. In fact, if you let your breathing guide you, it’ll also help you with mindfulness meditation.

We can’t forget that breathing is the key to improving your wellbeing. A better knowledge of yourself while breathing is a great way to anchor yourself in reality.

This anchor can help you focus and concentrate, something which you’ll work on throughout your Vinyasa yoga sessions as you move from pose to pose. There’s nothing better than yoga to help you focus and concentrate and achieve personal your goals, for example!

This is why Vinyasa yoga, with its breathing exercises, fluid movement, and harmony between body and mind, is so popular. It allows you to gain physical fitness while managing stress, improving your concentration, and improving your mental and spiritual wellbeing.

Ready to grab your yoga mat and try a sun salutation?

If you're not sold on this type of yoga class, don't forget that there's also Ashtanga yoga (power yoga), Bikram yoga (hot yoga), and Hatha yoga, to name a few, all of which can be practised by beginners and generally include a sequence of poses and pranayama breathing techniques.

If you're not quite ready to attend a group class, don't forget that you can find a private yoga teacher on sites like Superprof. Additionally, many of the tutors on Superprof offer the first hour of tutoring for free so you can try out the different yoga styles and see which one's right for you. Almost every yoga style includes gentle and challenging yoga postures as well as controlling your breath.

There are also a lot of places offering yoga for beginners. Even if you think you've got no flexibility, you can join other aspiring yogis and get the energy flowing out of your chakras. Even if you don't believe in the spirituality of the yogic practice and its restorative properties, you can't deny the physical benefits of all breaking a sweat while doing a yoga routine, especially if you're doing Bikram yoga, which takes place in a heated yoga studio.

If you have any concerns about starting yoga, make sure you consult your doctor first!

Once you've gotten your clean bill of health, you can start looking for yoga classes near me...

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