A vinyasa is a classical flow of postures—exhaling as you descend into Chaturunga, inhaling into Upward-Facing Dog, and exhaling as you push yourself up and back into Downward Facing Dog. It is a welcomed reprieve from long holds, a great way to get link other flows and postures, and a wonderful warm up.
For me, going a day without practicing a few vinyasas is like going a day without drinking water. Here are my top five reasons you should practice vinyasas every day.
1. Increases Strength in the Back, Core, Legs and Arms
Yup, that is basically your whole body. This simple flow of postures will activate your back and arms as you push and pull yourself to and from the ground. It will engage your core as you hold yourself in Chaturunga, and as you transition from one position to the next, your legs get a great workout the whole time.
Ever wonder why those who practice Ashtanga yoga look so amazing? Vinyasa is one of the reasons.
2. Helps Connect Your Movements with Your Breath
The link between posture and breath is one of the most important “unions” that can be made in the yoga practice. Technically speaking, yoga asana and breath should always be in tandem, and this is something that does take some practice to really get into.
The flow of vinyasa is so deeply connected with the breath that by practicing them regularly, you will start to really ingrain within your body/mind the ability to connect your movements with your breathing. The movements in this flow are basic, which provides the space for you to consciously connect your breath with the movements.
3. Increases Flexibility of the Front Body
The repetition of Upward Dog is one of the best ways to help slowly and gently open the front of the body. The opening of the hips and the shoulders in this posture really helps to correct the “forward slump” that most of us who sit at a desk all day experience in our bodies.
If you think about it, Upward-Facing Dog puts your body in exactly the opposite position you are in when you are sitting—and this is extremely beneficial. This Upward-Facing Dog practice will also help open more subtle energies in the body—opening the chest to more oxygen, and opening the heart to more love.
4. Opens the Back Body
Flowing back into Downward Dog several times in your practice helps elongate the spine, and all the muscles from your bum to your heels—and that is a very very good thing. Opening the back of the body means you're less likely to suffer from back pain, because your muscles will be open and mobile rather than stiff and compressed.
This action is also a mini inversion, which can increase blood flow to your brain, help relieve digestive issues, take the pressure off of your digestive organs, and more.
5. Introduces the Meditative Quality of Yoga
The repetition of exhale, inhale, exhale as you flow from down, to up, to down, is one of the best ways to help transition your mind from the business of life, to the calm, quiet meditation of yoga.
If you are used to having a very active mind in your yoga practice—either of thoughts concerning your life off of the mat, or trying to think of all the things you need to pay attention to within your practice—vinyasas will offer you a place to just breathe, move, and be quiet.
The movements and breath are easy, and the practice of repetition will help you to switch over into a meditative state—just like repeating a mantra. Inhale, exhale, inhale.
What is your favorite reason to do vinyasa? If you do not currently have vinyasas in your practice, would you consider adding them?