The definition of Vinyasa Flow Yoga is more difficult to define than other methods because it embodies the continuous, dynamic, and conscious evolution of this practice. It reflects the continuous interaction of human beings in the flow of life, linking our inner essence, life experience and accepted traditional wisdom together because we have explored and discovered new possibilities for creative expression and conscious life on this planet earth.
The term vinyasa comes from nyasa, which means “to place” and vi means “in a special way.” The term flow, when referring to Hatha yoga, “means to practice with a theme or purpose with interconnected or interrelated poses.” In conclusion, Vinyasa Flow suggests a practice where we consciously place the body-breath-mind in a continuous flow of space and time.
Like Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Vinyasa Flow moves steadily from one posture to another in synchronization with ujjayi pranayama, often pausing and maintaining the posture at different times while maintaining the rhythm of breathing. Unlike Ashtanga Vinyasa, each class usually provides a different sequence of poses, although most classes use some form of Surya Namaskara A and B from the astanga lineage.
Many classes also closely follow the basic standing postures and the ending sequence found in Ashtanga Vinyasa. Many Vinyasa Flow classes use the principle of Iyengar alignment, dynamic movements in poses, and the use of props. In Vinyasa Flow’s emphasis on vinyasa krama, one can see Krishnamacharya’s insights and methods, krama refers to the “stage” of creating conscious body sequencing. Vinyasa krama also refers to the stages of practice that adapt to different intentions and abilities, so you start where you are and move consciously in “a special way”, from simple to more complex positions.
Vinyasa Flow often employs the concept of pratikriyasana, which means neutralization or “opposite poses”. Working on the idea of “special placement”, many Vinyasa Flow teachers emphasize this concept in several relationships within the practice: being aware of how the body is moved and placed in and between poses; conscious connection of breath and body with a mind in and between poses the way you approach your mat, set your intention, stay in touch with that intention throughout your practice, get up from the mat and go out into the bigger world; paying attention to what you are doing, exercising, breathing, moving, feeling, observing, being upstream; opening in a more intuitive way that expresses and embodies the feeling of pranic energy flowing in the universe.
Unlike most Hatha yoga approaches, which have a fixed system, Vinyasa Flow is not a system. This allows for creativity in asana sequencing and offers a wide range of topics in different classes. This freedom and dynamism help make Vinyasa Flow one of the most attractive forms of yoga today, resonant in various ways with the spirit, intentions, and life experiences of different teachers and students.