What Does Vinyasa Mean, Anyway?

The Sanskrit word vinyasa has become a broad catch-all phrase for yoga practices that involve flowing from one pose to the next on the breath. Often called Vinyasa yoga, Vinyasa Flow, or simply Flow Yoga, Vinyasa yoga has become one of the most popular styles of Yoga, There are hundreds of Vinyasa teachers and classes to choose from.

What does Vinyasa actually mean?

Connecting with Breath

Vinyasa is the actual term. It means “breathing/movement” and implies a linking of breath with movement (one breath per movement). Vinyasa is created when you link the length of a movement to the length of your exhale or inhale.

Vinyasa is, for example, stretching your arms overhead and out at the same pace as you inhale.

The Origin of Vinyasa Yoga

Pattabhi Jois developed the concept of Vinyasa in Ashtanga Yoga. Ashtanga is a classical system of Yoga. It’s a physically demanding, dynamic practice. Students move through a series of postures while synchronizing their breath.

Ashtanga Yoga was introduced in 1970 and became popular in 1980. Teachers who began with the traditional Ashtanga system developed their styles of Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Power Yoga, Prana Flow Yoga, Baptiste Flow, and other Vinyasa Flow Styles.

One final note: Teachers of Yoga also use the term Vinyasa for a segment in the traditional Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation — specifically the transition from Forward Fold to Upward-Facing Dog and then back to Downward Facing Dog. You may hear your yoga teacher say, “exhale vinyasa, to Down Dog” in class.

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