What is vinyasa yoga?

Debra Fulghum Bruce PhD
Healthcare Specialist

With vinyasa or astanga yoga, you will “flow” from one posture to another in a series. Vinyasa helps to heat the body quickly, enabling the muscles to warm up. Practitioners of this style often develop strength rapidly, as the flow series can sometimes be demanding.

Vinyasa yoga is a form of yoga that emphasizes breathing sequences and flowing between different poses. Many forms of yoga include vinyasa by emphasize flowing in between poses and breathing as you move through the poses.

Mike Allard, NASM Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

Vinyasa yoga is a dynamic, flowing form of yoga. This differs from 'traditional' yoga where you are holding static poses. Vinyasa yoga places emphasis on controlling your breathing. Your focus is to synchronize your movements with your breathing. Transitions from one pose to another are performed during a single inhale or exhale. This style yoga is great for increasing your balance and proprioception as well as core strength and muscle endurance. Vinyasa can also be combined with other styles of yoga such as bikram or hot yoga.

Another big difference between traditional yoga and a vinyasa style is the stretching that is performed. Since traditional yoga focuses on holding static poses for longer periods of time, the stretching performed here is considered active stretching. During vinyasa yoga you are holding poses for a much shorter period of time, meaning this style of yoga uses a combination of active and dynamic stretching methods.

Vinyasa is a practice that links several poses together with breathing work in a continuous movement. It helps build internal heat in the body. There are many forms of vinyasa offered in studios today. Because of the focus of moving with the breath, vinyasa generally is a more physically active yoga practice. You may hear the terms vinyasa flow, flow and power yoga.

At YogaWorks we talk of vinyasa’s other definition “to place in a special way,“ such that with each breath our movement becomes more mindful, focused and special, rather than something to complete because we have to. Mindfulness is a large part of why yoga is different from other forms of exercise.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.