Vinyasa or flow yoga is among the most popular forms of yoga today, yet it may seem intimidating to newcomers to the fitness scene. The Vinyasa style is characterized by a continuous flow of poses, similar to a dance or tai chi. The postures and transitions are linked together with the breath, so often each pose immediately flows to the next. This fast-paced style of yoga differs from more traditional styles of yoga, which focus on holding each pose in a steady, static position. Vinyasa is a dynamic and high-energy practice that builds heat in the body, develops strength, and stimulates the cardiovascular system.
When first learning this type of yoga practice, many people take a beginner class or workshop either online or at your local studio. Vinyasa flow is also known as power yoga, as it can be a very challenging physical practice. Thus it is helpful to be exposed to the sequence of poses and breathing exercises it uses before attending a live class.
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Whatever your choice, make sure you study with experienced teachers certified by the Yoga Alliance. Once comfortable with its pace, format and variety of postures, you can enjoy the many benefits it brings.
Reasons to practice Vinyasa Yoga
While this approach to yoga requires a high amount of physical activity, there are many great benefits that arise with a regular practice. Some of these benefits are common in other schools of yoga, while others are unique to vinyasa.
- Enhances Core Stability
The key to developing core strength is to not only engage the muscles in your lower torso but also to stabilize the spine to prevent low back strain. Vinyasa yoga incorporates a variety of poses that engage and strengthen your core muscles. Moving through a complicated sequence of side bends, backbends, and twists uses your own body weight to build core strength and will improve stability, power and balance.
- Improves Mobility and Range of Motion
Maintaining a good range of motion and proper mobility is a key factor in reducing injury, improving posture, and completing daily tasks without pain. Luckily, the sun salutations and yoga asanas incorporated into Vinyasa have the effect of enhancing your mobility. The combination of fast-paced movements and muscle strengthening exercises provides an opportunity to increase range of movement while building strength for healthy mobility.
- Keeps your Heart Healthy
Vinyasa yoga, whether you’re taking a dynamic class or simply practicing morning sun salutations, is considered to be light-intensity aerobic physical activity. Regular cardiovascular exercise is essential to improving and maintaining good heart health. Upper back-bending postures can also increase circulation in the heart and surrounding muscles and tissues.
- Calms the Mind and Reduces Stress
The flowing movements of this practice are not only great exercise, but it’s also considered a moving meditation. Moving through a sequence of poses requires focus, concentration, and deep breathing. This in turn calms your mind and relieves stress. If you suffer from anxiety, worry, burnout, or other stress-related problems, this style may be just the thing for you.
- Boosts Mood
While most people think of yoga as an activity that helps keep the body fit and flexible, it can also help regulate the emotions. Vinyasa is a great way to unwind, focus on the present, and gain clarity on all the different aspects in your life. Through conscious breathing and mindful movement, you can let go of your emotional baggage, integrate negative feelings, and quickly improve your mood. You can do different poses to experience different mood changes, such as energization or relaxation. Yoga also teaches you to focus on the positive and see the world in a more positive way, rather than a negative way.
- Grants Flexibility
Yoga is a great way to build flexibility and ease stiffness in your joints. Particularly if you live a sedentary lifestyle, practicing Vinyasa flow can allow you to stretch and strengthen each muscle throughout your yoga practice. The warming nature of this style encourages the muscles to soften and be more receptive to deep stretching.
- Improves Sleep
Whether you’re suffering from insomnia or simply want to catch more Z’s, Vinyasa flow yoga can help you fall asleep faster, as well as remain asleep for longer. The fluid movements and mindful breathing techniques grants better sleep by easing tension in your body and reducing worry in your mind. One caveat—as flow yoga can get your heart pumping, it is not advised to practice right before bedtime.
- Stablizes and Regulates the Emotions
Performing yoga poses helps you have greater emotional stability by calming the nervous system and improving your sense of well-being and self-acceptance. Learning detachment and expanding your consciousness makes us balanced and at peace with ourselves. These skills allow you need to return to this balance when you experience negativity or any strong emotional upsets.
- Increases Lung Capacity
One of the most important benefits that yoga can give to you is a stronger respiratory system. Vinyasa translates into “breath-synchronized movement,” so breathing is a critical component of the yoga practice. Deep breathing works to expand the lungs to their fullest with air and to strengthen the diaphragm. By routinely expanding your lungs, you can boost your lung health and improve your lung capacity, which is helpful in lung problems such as asthma or bronchitis.
- Bolsters Energy Levels
There is scientific evidence that yoga can directly improve energy levels and vitality. It is believed that the practice of asanas and pranayama release of endorphins, increase blood flow to the brain, and reduce the amount of ruminative and negative thoughts. It has been shown that poor posture can be directly related to lower energy levels which yoga can help correct.
- Burns Calories
Vinyasa yoga keeps you moving almost constantly, which helps you to burn more calories and boost your metabolism than a regular hatha yoga class. Studies have shown that people who practiced yoga regularly were able to lose weight and body fat, and improve fitness. An hour-long moderate level class can burn between 400 to 600 calories.
- Improves Body Image
If you are looking for a way to boost your body image and improve your self-esteem, vinyasa flow yoga can be an excellent choice. The mindfulness, self-awareness, empowerment and community that comes with yoga can change your life. As you practice and relax into your breathing, you can build your compassion for yourself and your body’s abilities and limitations.
- Increases Focus and Memory
Numerous studies have shown that practicing yoga on a regular basis can help improve mental focus. Vinyasa teaches you to focus on your breathing and the transitions between asanas, which has a carryover effect to other areas of your life. When you are able to harness your focus, you can better control your emotions, remain calm and collected at work, and be more productive in life.
- Strengthens the Immune System
Vinyasa is an excellent way to strengthen your immune system and stay healthy during the cold and flu season. The variety of yoga poses and the fast-paced movements activate the lymphatic system to flush out toxins and boost infection-fighting white blood cells. In addition to stimulating lymph glands, the practice also improves circulation and reduce stress levels to further help prevent disease.
Vinyasa yoga is a practice that helps enhance overall health and well-being, which in turn, helps one lead a healthier yogic lifestyle. There are many types of yoga you can study and explore to suit different needs and goals. If you like the faster pace and intensity of vinyasa, you might also enjoy flow, power, ashtanga or hot yoga classes. Some vinyasa yoga classes are combined with long-held yin yoga postures to create a more accessible and therapeutic and balanced yoga program. Even though yoga is a great form of exercise that can help you feel alive and vibrant, it’s not without its risks. If you push yourself too hard or do not receive proper training, you can injure yourself and do more harm than good. Whichever yoga style you study, the most important factor to receive the benefits of yoga is to practice regularly.