Of all of the different types of yoga, vinyasa is one of the most popular among yoga enthusiasts and fitness buffs alike. While every type of raja yoga has an element of meditation and works to strengthen the mind/body connection, most forms of vinyasa yoga tend to focus more on physical fitness and core strengthening. In the Western world, the common perception of yoga includes the types that collectively are the physical practice of yoga, as opposed to the lifestyle or spiritual practices.
Vinyasa Basics. The term “flow yoga” is commonly applied to vinyasa yoga because every form of vinyasa bases its practice on the flow of the breath. Traditional asanas (yogic positions) are still used, but there is generally much less focus on perfecting them. More important than precise postures is the movement between them, matching the flexing and stretching of various muscles with the flow of respiration.
Wellness Benefits of Vinyasa. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “People who practice yoga tend to have good coordination, posture, flexibility, range of motion, concentration, sleep habits and digestion.” Various studies have strongly indicated the value of vinyasa yoga in reducing the risk of injury by encouraging a supple, strong skeletal muscle matrix and improved bone density. Some practitioners also recommend yoga as therapy for obesity, type 2 diabetes, mild hypertension and other conditions that can be improved through exercise and stress management.
Who Should Consider Vinyasa. Every vinyasa teacher will offer something a bit different, though the most common types of vinyasa feature moderately paced exercises for improving physical fitness. Make sure to ask your prospective teacher about the fitness levels required to attend his or her class, as some will be intermediate and advanced, while others will be easy for beginners. Yoga may be a good option for you if you would like to improve your level of physical fitness and overall well-being, including reducing stress and potentially easing chronic pain. You should always consult your doctor before you begin practicing vinyasa yoga, especially if you have a condition that might interfere with safe vinyasa.