Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices which originated in India 5,000 years ago. Nowadays, yoga is widely practiced across the globe with 2 billion people practicing yoga to promote health and relaxation.
There are many different styles of yoga out there to benefit our physical and emotional health, and recently we’ve been hearing a lot about the benefits of Vinyasa Yoga so we spoke to Margaret Young, a Vinyasa yoga teacher, wellness entrepreneur and founder of lifestyle blog and brand, Wild Soul, to give us the lowdown.
What is Vinyasa Yoga?
Vinyasa is a type of yoga practice that involves coordinating the breath with a continuous flow of postures. During the class, you will often hear the teacher say, “take a Vinyasa”. Taking a Vinyasa means going through a short sequence from Downward Dog through Chaturanga or Knees Chest Chin through Upward Facing Dog or Cobra, and ending back at Downward Dog. There are modifications, and depending on your energy levels, experience and how many Vinyasas are in the class, you might do a few variations and you might “sit “some out i.e. just stay in Downward Dog or Childs Pose. If this is gobbledygook to you if you have never tried yoga, then just know that is a short transitional sequence and it’s not half as complicated as it sounds!
Who is Vinyasa Yoga good for?
Vinyasa is good for people like me who want a physical workout, as well as seeking to experience the spiritual benefits of yoga, like better sleep and mental clarity. If we use a running analogy, then Hatha, Yin, and Restorative yoga would be like a walk, and Ashtanga and Rocket yoga would be like a run, so Vinyasa would be a jog. The pace is mid-range in its dynamism but is adaptable. You can always skip a Vinyasa and lie in Childs Pose when you need to.
If you are new to yoga or new to fitness in general then definitely look for a “slow flow” Vinyasa class, or maybe try Hatha or Yin first for a few weeks before progressing to a slow flow Vinyasa. Even if you are super fit but have never done yoga, jumping feet first into a vigorous Vinyasa class may result in you hurting yourself or never coming back to the studio, and we yogis don’t want that to happen! So start small and build up when you learn the asanas (postures).
What are the general benefits?
Ah the benefits of Vinyasa… there are so many. If you have worked in retail or a job that involved lifting, you might have attended basic manual handling training, and you might know some basic information about the spine and the lumbar discs. It was only through yoga teacher training that I realised that the discs in our vertebrae don’t have their own blood supply, so it is via movement that our discs get access to hydration. A well-balanced yoga class will safely take the spine through some or all the range of spinal motions. Have you heard the expression “you are only as old as your spine?” Well, now you know how to hold on to your mobility as you age.
If your yoga goals are aesthetic, or in the here and now and not the future, I have you covered. Vinyasa yoga is particularly great for muscle strength, building strong shoulders, a solid core, and is a great cardiovascular workout. You will earn your relaxation, believe me.
Margaret writes a monthly yoga column for Evoke.ie, a top Irish website attracting over 1.2m female readers a month and has contributed to the Irish Times health supplement and Image.ie. You can also follow her yoga journey on Instagram @magsmmyoung and her website www.wildsoul.ie.