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Hey everyone, welcome to Yoga Theater. I’m Adriene, and today we’re tackling the question, what is a Vinyasa? This comes up a lot, and it’s a totally awesome question because it’s confusing. We go to public classes and the teacher’s like, “And Vinyasa. Vinyasa. Mufasa.” So first thing’s first, we’ll break this down very quickly for ya. First thing’s first is like most Sanskrit terms, the word Vinyasa has many meanings.

The first thing we’ll do is break down the word. The Sanskrit word Vinyasa means to place. The first part means to place nyasa in a special way. So forget about that chaturanga to updog and just think about that the Sanskrit term itself means to be place in a special way. Now I’m not trying to get on my Sanskrit high horse, or my Yogic high horse here, but I feel like that’s really cool and really important.

Especially as a beginner but even for anyone who might be listening to this, wanting to deepen your practice and embrace the Yogic philosophy in your Asana practice, and hopefully in your everyday lives. So to place in a special way. For me, that brings up the idea of intention, to move with intention. So honestly, there are many definitions to the word Vinyasa, and for this Vinyasa. But to place in a special way, I feel like my favorite definition is definitely how do you move with intentions? To move with intentions. So that brings me to another way of interpreting this word Vinyasa, and that is that it is a systematic approach to moving from one point to the next with the breath. So very important with the breath. So moving from point A to point B with the breath. So we have this idea of moving with intention, and now we have this understanding or this idea of moving from one pose to the next, or just moving from point A to point B with the breath.

So it’s breath and intention. Now to the confusing question. I look at a yoga schedule and I see there’s a Vinyasa class. So linking body movement with the breath has become this very popular way to get the heart rate going, to flow in and out of the postures. So using my hands a lot. So we also will refer to this word as flow, a flow class, a Vinyasa class. So you know what to expect when you show up to that class to link breath and body movements. Probably moves at a semi-swift pace if you’re in the West. And then the final kind of practical thing that you might be wondering. Well, what about when I’m in that Vinyasa class and the teacher says, “And now take your Vinyasa or rest?” And that is looking at the word in a whole other way, but still with the same principles of moving with intention, linking body movement with breath. And that is, that little sequence between our downward-facing dogs. So that moment between Adho Mukha and Adho Mukha usually. So typically, that will be lowering down to the belly, opening your heart and core, moving with the breath, and then exhaling back to down dog.

Or, again, really common in the West and in these kind of more fast-paced classes, we do them in the channel here as well, we will take that opportunity, that Vinyasa as a chaturanga to upward-facing dog and then a return to downward-facing dog. So I hope I’m not confusing you. There are lots of meanings to the word Vinyasa. There are also these practical applications; the name of the class, the noun, the moment between the downward-facing dogs.

But if we really go back to the root of the Sanskrit word, we’re talking about moving with intention and using the breath as a tool to do just that. So hopefully, this will help you figure out the word Vinyasa. It doesn’t always have to be that fancy chaturanga to up dog to perform a Vinyasa. If you’re in a class and that moment comes along and you’re not prepared to do that or you’re working on shoulder stuff, or you’re just growing that chaturanga, as long as you’re moving with your breath you’re doing it right, you’re doing it awesome. So anyway, that’s all for today. Keep the questions coming. We love to respond to the requests because it means that we’re having a real conversation, we’re not just yoga robots. I wore this shirt especially for you. It’s my first time to wear it in a long time. I made this when I was in 5th grade for Track and Field Day. That might be an over share, but I think it’s pretty cool.

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