Inspired by a Laruga GLASER introductory speech – 23.11.2018
Many Yogis come to Yoga class asking me what exactly is “Vinyasa”?
Nowadays, there are a handful of declensions of the word: “Yoga Vinyasa”, “Vinyasa Flow”, “Power Vinyasa”, “Ashtanga Vinyasa”, etc.
Vinyasa (“विन्यास ») comes from the Sanskrit term “Nyasa” which means “to place” and the prefix “vi” which means “in a certain way”, more specifically: “with velocity” or “with agility”.
In the context of Yoga, Vinyasa therefore seems to be the secret ingredient bringing dynamism to the practice.
But what is exactly “placed in a specific manner”?
Indeed, one may have this feeling (sometimes a little bit frustrating – especially at the beginning) that the overall purpose of Yoga is, precisely, to be dynamic and to place all body parts in a specific manner!
But there is more than the eye can see.
If you observe your Body while practicing, you may notice at least one other physical component interacting: the breath.
If you undertake a cardio sequence, the pace of your breath will raise. If you come back to relaxation phases, your breath’s pace will slow down.
It is a simple truth, so simple that we tend to forget how special it is. We take breathing action for granted, yet it is the essence of our life.
Therefore, Vinyasa refers to the breath and can be defined as the flow connecting conscious movement to conscious breath.
You can, for example, actively observe this flow when practicing the “Sun Salutations” (“Suraya Namaskara”) where each movement of the sequence has to be carried out either on an inhalation or an exhalation.
Without the support of the breath, Sun Salutations would merely be gymnastics.
And this is precisely where the magic happens!
Vinyasa allows us to start cultivating an act of meditation in the practice.
Breath should be the rhythm of Yoga practice as it is the rhythm of life.
The breath is igniting the movement. It is its fuel. And one wants to be aware of this subtle act as it is directly linked to our central nervous system and has the capacity to calm it down.
Focusing on your breath (instead of music, for example) brings stability and clarity to the Mind and places us in a deeper state of well-being. It allows us to (re-)connect to our own internal power and may even help develop our sixth sense which is Intuition.
Being more intuitive allows us being proactive and no more reactive facing difficult situations. One may become more skillful facing life.
In the end, if the term « Vinyasa » is roughly used to describe a practice where each posture (“Asana”) is linked to the next one following a specific breathing pattern, it is, in fact, much more essential than this.
When practicing, be aware of the fact that breathing allows the air – coming from our environment – to enter our Body and to nourish it.
The breathing action establishes the ultimate bound between the outer and the inner world. It even blurs the apparent boundaries between these two universes.
Breath is, therefore, the key to the next level of the practice: unlocking the doors of a meditative state and sense of Unicity which distinguishes Yoga from a purely physical practice.
And Vinyasa, the connection between conscious movement and conscious breath should be cultivated at any stage of the practice, even while holding a specific Asana to reach this state of ease, balance and unicity as prescribed by Pātanjāli under aphorism II. 46: « Sthira-sukham asanam » (II.46).
Hannelore 29.11.2018, Luxembourg.