There are a variety of different types of yoga. Hatha is the most popular in the West and emphasizes the poses or asanas of yoga as a physical fitness routine over a more spiritualized traditional yoga. Vinyasa yoga is a derivative of hatha yoga. It is different in that it emphasizes moving with the breath as you move from one pose to the next.
Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga
Vinyasa moves at a quicker, even pace, breathing in on upward movement and breathing out on downward movements. This creates an aerobic effect that can strengthen your heart and lungs and get the blood pumping. It can help increase muscle strength, flexibility and endurance. Stress levels can also be reduced as you focus on the inhalation and exhalation which triggers a relaxation response. As with other aerobic exercise, you will get the added benefit of a release of endorphins in your brain which will give you a positive feeling.
In a class setting, you will be moving with other students and you will also be breathing in unison with other students. In this communal activity, you can find that place where moving meditation begins. As with all meditation, you will benefit from the positive things that are happening in your brain when you are in this state. As you move with your class, there is a rhythm or flow that allows you to just move and not have to think and figure things out, disengaging the critical left brain for a while and allowing the right brain to play and experience.
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These flowing yoga routines will combine several poses together, flowing from one into the next, breathing fully and consciously as you move from one pose to the another After a few movements, you return to the first pose to go through the set again, repeating the movements, challenging you to build endurance, and cardiovascular strength.
Cautions for Vinyasa Practice
Because of the continuous movement involved with Vinyasa yoga, there is less emphasis on proper form in the postures. As you move without pausing, it is difficult for the instructor or yourself for that matter, to be perfectly aware of your form. This can lead to injury if you hyperextend or go too deeply into a stretch or simply do a pose with bad form. Be sure to be aware of the placement of your hands and feet and joints. If you need to, slow down or pause. This may seem difficult in a class setting, but an understanding instructor will not push students beyond what their bodies will allow. Yoga is not a sport so even though you may that aerobic benefit, proceed with caution so that you can continue to enjoy your Vinyasa practice.
You may find it helpful to study the poses or take a separate class that emphasize the proper way to make the poses. Also, if taking a vinyasa yoga class, look for an instructor who will suite you and your needs. Consider what you want in a class. Do you want it to move quickly or fast? Do you want the instructor to give thorough instructions? Are you new to this or have more experience? All these things will help you chose the class that is best for you.