Modern day lifestyles are unrelenting, we are all so caught up in the rat race of it that we find little time and patience to behold and experience what lies deep within us, something that yoga in general and vinyasa yoga poses, in particular, helps us achieve. Yoga is an ancient Indian spiritual science which helps us realize and calm the turbulence of thoughts, as perceived by the five senses.
The Vinyasa yoga workout is composed of a series of poses that portrays movement through the power of breathing; which is inhaling and exhaling. The manner in which the body moves in a vinyasa yoga sequence makes it look like a dance form, which is why it is also called Vinyasa Flow or just Flow Yoga.
Origin of Vinyasa Yoga
Vinyasa yoga began as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and was named after a yogi, Sri Tirumala Krishnamacharya. Unlike other stricter yoga schools like Ashtanga, there is no hard and fast rule, theory or sequence that teachers and students must follow. It gives the practitioners a lot of freedom to switch and bend the rules to innovate their own style of postures. In short, Vinyasa is a good style of yoga for people who want to break free from archaic yoga postures.
Vinyasa Yoga Benefits
Check out the myriad vinyasa yoga benefits here. Here is why it should be an integral part of your everyday routine to reap the maximum benefits. Vinyasa has healing, restorative and calming properties.
- It is calming – The steady cycle of inhales and exhales makes us calm and focused on activities.
- Helps purification of the body – The continual movements, from one pose to another, gives you an added cardiovascular benefit creating internal heat. The increased circulation and the profuse sweat help purify the body.
- Increases muscle strength & flexibility – The routines, whether slow paced or fast paced are a great workout for your body.
- Brings you to the present – Vinyasa yoga helps you live in the present and discover life with a new zeal.
- It helps you lose weight – As you maneuver your body into intensive poses, you burn a lot of calories and end up losing weight.
Vinyasa classes bring out a strong mind and body conjunction to help stay in the present. The Vinyasa yoga workout is almost like a moving meditation. The spirit of its fulfillment depends on the yoga teacher, who guides you across the transition of yoga vinyasa postures effortlessly.
Vinyasa means “connection”, as it exemplifies the connection between movement and breath. The regular practice of vinyasa yoga can increase muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility, and reduce levels of stress.
The body gains a new momentum with the help of its unique flow, as it strengthens your muscles and joints. It improves the function of lungs and heart; and we experience a new vigor and vitality in our lifestyle. Vinyasa makes you sweat and release unwanted toxins from the body, thus increasing your immunity to diseases.
Vinyasa Yoga Weight Loss
Vinyasa yoga isn’t as gentle as it looks. It is rigorous as it links poses together; one such example is the Sun Salutation. This is one exercise or flow that involves a number of exercises seamlessly bound together such as crescent lunges, warriors, chaturanga and other balancing postures, which focuses on different parts of the body. This form of yoga helps develop lean muscle and hence you burn more calories all day long in order to maintain your bodily function. You can enhance its effectiveness by adding a day or two of weight training.
Vinyasa gives stiff competition to traditional forms of cardio. In an hour, a 150-pound woman can burn close to 495 calories! If you compare this to other forms of cardio, walking at 3mph burns a solid 248 calories, pedaling away on a stationary bike burns close to 398 calories and elliptical training burns close to 645 calories. If you are looking at shedding a few pounds, you will have to exercise for 250 minutes (a week) of moderate-intensity walking or yoga (According to the American College of Sports Medicine).
Best Vinyasa Yoga Exercises for Vinyasa Yoga Weight Loss
Exercise benefits your body but yoga or vinyasa yoga impacts your mind, body, and soul. Find out a few you can practice every day for overall improvement. The Vinyasa School is all about stretching and bending of the body, which can either be fast or slow, depending on alignment or stretching and on the teacher. Some classes include warm-up stretches at the beginning, while others launch straight into standing poses.
- Cat-Cow Stretch
A cat-cow stretch is one of the most simple yet effective yoga exercises. The continuous movements, from one pose to another, improve cardiovascular functions. It cures problems of piles, asthma, diabetes, and arthritis.
This stretching vinyasa yoga routine involves you to arch as you inhale and round off on an exhale. This you do on a table-top or while you are on all fours. Continue to move into the position and move out of it in a gentle rhythmic fashion.
- Vinyasa Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)-
This vinyasa yoga sequence is designed to release tension in and around the shoulders and prepare you for a cobra pose. If you have a sedentary job and a stiff back problem, then this vinyasa yoga pose is exactly what you need!
Slide forward and raise the chest up into the Cobra posture. You may keep your elbows bent in this pose and the shoulders away from the ears. Look up as you inhale, make a gentle effort to push the chest forward; and as you exhale, make a gentle effort to push the navel down. Tuck the toes under. Ensure you’re stretching just as much as possible and do not apply any force.
The regular practice of vinyasa yoga can increase muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility, and reduce levels of stress.
Mentally, the synchronized breathing relaxes your mind and helps release any blockage of energy flow throughout your body. Spiritually, Vinyasa helps vitalize your chakras, as well as awaken it if it has not been done before. Depending on your teacher and the class, the different chakras will be targeted with specific poses.
- Downward dog yoga
The Downward dog yoga provides an incredible balance to your mind and body. And that’s not all, It also helps target both your upper and lower body at the same time and you will feel the difference in your hands, arms, back, shoulders, calves, hamstrings right down to the arches of your feet.
Stand on all fours on your mat. Breathe out as you push the floor away from you, lifting your hips and pushing yourself back into an upside-down V pose.
Next, straighten your legs as you lengthen your spine and bring the top of your thighs and knees back.
Bring your upper arms towards each other and then bring your shoulder blades down along the spine, but maintain space across the top of the shoulders. Maintain this pose by breathing in and breathing out for 5 counts.
- Kumbhakasana or Plank Position
The kumbhakasana pose tones your thigh and calves. It also improves your posture and helps strengthen your wrists. It simultaneously works multiple parts of your body including your core, low back, chest, forearms, and shoulders.
Move your body into a downward dog position, lower your torso while you bring your arms almost perpendicular to the floor so your chest and arms lie directly over your face.
Brace your core as you return to the downward dog pose and hold the position for five long breaths.
- Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)
This is one of the more difficult Vinyasa yoga poses as it challenges your balance, works the thigh muscles and the glutes, and helps build strength in your arm muscles.
Lie on one side on the mat as you go on one arm and legs to raise your body up, balancing your weight so that it balances on your arm and leg. Align your hips with the rest of your body, don’t let it drop down to the floor and keep your back straight and as one arm reaches towards the ceiling.
- Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
This is a simple Vinyasa yoga pose and helps correspond to a normal inhalation and exhalation process.
When you do this pose, take a deep breath in as you raise your arms overhead and try and reach as high as you can all the while keeping your foot planted on the floor. Then breathe out as you hinge your body forward, keeping your legs straight, and your hands should reach the floor.
- Suryanamaskara or Sun Salutation
Suryanamaskara is a wonderful sequence where you perform a set of twelve poses one after another harmonizing breath and movement together. It has multifaceted benefits including weight loss, reducing stress and anxiety, improving blood circulation and so on. This is one of the most effective vinyasa yoga exercises and works your entire body.
- Begin in Tadasana (or the Mountain Pose) with your feet hip-distance apart. Let your hands rest by your side. Inhale as you bring your arms to your sides and then join your palms above your head in what is known as the Urdhva Hastasana or the raised arms pose. Move your gaze to your hands and slide your shoulders away from your ears.
- Breathe out and release your arms to your sides as you move forward and bend over your legs going to the next pose such as Uttanasana or the Standing Forward Bend Pose. Next, bring your hands to the floor.
- Breathe in and raise your head and chest to come to the Ardha Uttanasana or the Half Forward Bend Pose. Raise your hands through the crown of your head as you press your fingertips again on the ground.
- Breathe out and release into the Uttanasana, and then jump back with your elbows bent into a Chaturanga Dandasana or a four-limbed staff pose.
- Make your elbows touch your ribs as you bring your body to the floor. First, you breathe out into Uttanasana. Next, walk your feet back to Plank Pose, ensure your shoulders are over the wrist and create a straight line from the crown to the heel.
- Exhale into a Chaturanga Dandasana. You can drop into your knees if you are unable to do the Chaturanga Dandasana. Then lower yourself to the floor as you drop your knees, chest, and chin to the floor. Keep your butt high as your elbows hug your ribs.
- Breathe in as you lift your chest and get into a Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose), with your thighs and knees lifted.
- Breathe out as you press back into Adho Mukha Svanasana, more commonly known as the downward facing dog pose. With your hips high and your palms pressing into the floor, your shoulder moves towards the tailbone, heels pressing down towards the ground.
- Breathe in and walk or jump your feet to the front of the mat moving into an Ardha Uttanasana.
- Breathe out and ease into Uttanasana.
- Breathe in as you reach both arms up by side and then raise your hand overhead as you bend at your hips getting back to Urdhva Hastasana.
- Breathe out and get your arms back to Tadasana.
Most vinyasa yoga classes begin with sun salutations – a sequence of postures done in succession. Many Vinyasa flow classes may begin with some sort of meditation. Vinyasa yoga routine combines the breath, body, and mind into a single experience. It helps us master the art of breath control with the fluidity and dexterity of yogis and it allows us to be guided by a subtle body intuition.
Disclaimer: All exercise should be done under the supervision of certified professionals or if any medical condition exists, please do seek the advice of the physician to proceed with this exercise.