As yoga grew in popularity in the 1990s into the 2000s the yoga that became most known and mainstream is called Vinyasa. Since it is so popular many people do not realize that yoga comes in many shapes and forms.
While Vinyasa has become accepted as a mainstream form of exercise, the original Vinyasa was created for strong, healthy fifteen-year-olds in India. This vinyasa is called Ashtanga, which means the eight limbs of yoga. Asana (or poses) is only one of the aspects of these eight limbs. Ashtanga — which is a specific series of poses — itself has become very popular, and yet many do not know Vinyasa stems from this system, which very much embraces traditional yoga.
Vinyasa means to flow on the breath. Yoga by definition is the union or yoking of the mind, body, and breath. Vinyasa in general is associated with a faster-moving form of yoga, approaching the poses almost like an aerobics class. While there is some benefit to this, it is definitely missing components such as proper breathing in the poses, and performing the poses in the way that will best serve the entire bodily system and health of the practitioner. Sometimes Vinyasa yoga is taught more slowly and is called Slow Flow, which holds poses longer and pays more attention to the proper execution of them.
While Vinyasa is the most popular style of yoga in the West, the poses stem from classical Hatha (the physical aspect of) yoga, the ancient science and art that helps the human system become purified, more in balance, healthier, and even healed from certain conditions.
At Sewall House Yoga Retreat our approach to Vinyasa yoga in our morning classes is very much influenced by Iyengar yoga, which emphasizes alignment and pacing to keep the body able to perform yoga at any age or stage in life. While today’s Vinyasa is fun, it can sometimes be very gymnastic and competitive, with practitioners eagerly approaching more advanced poses that they may not be ready for. When this happens, a good instructor reminds students to approach the practice from their own level and to listen to their body, mind, and breath at all times.
Another popular style of yoga is Power yoga, which is another form of Vinyasa, Power yoga offers stronger poses and is often based on the idea of strength training.
If a Sewall House guest is most accustomed to Vinyasa, we offer it in a safe, nurturing way that will both challenge and inform the student based on their current level of practice.
We like to make the practice fun and meet students at their level. Some Vinyasa and Power students already have an advanced practice. We are happy to help them progress, while still allowing beginners and intermediates to learn at their own level and ability.
Owner Donna Davidge offers various forms of Vinyasa yoga at Sewall House, based on decades of full-time teaching in New York City in the winter.