For many beginners starting out in yoga, vinyasa yoga is not the first type of yoga considered.
The most popular beginners yoga today is Bikram yoga or a regular Hot yoga class. Go to any Hot yoga studio at the peak hours of 7-9.30 am and 5-7.30pm and you will find packed classes. SOme studios are capable of catering to very large classes of 100 students, however the norm is to find classes with 30-60 students.
Hot yoga or Bikram yoga is good for beginners as there is generally a very structured sequence – 26 postures for Bikram – and it is the same every time you go to class.
Learning through repetition and basically the sam teachers dialogue no matter which class you go to cna be quite beneficial and get you on the road to improved physical an emotional health.
Vinyasa yoga is different and is a path less travelled by new yogis.
Vinyasa for Beginners – a Precursor for Ashtanga
The Vinyasa yoga system is a derivative of Ashtanga yoga – a practice developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Ashtanga yoga comprisse 5 different series of postures, beginning withe the primary series. Ashtanga primary series is a structured series of asanas that are connected with what is called a Vinyasa – a series of short postures that transition the student from one posture to the next. The vinyasa transitional postures normally comprise Chatauranga, followed by Upward facing Dog, and then Downward facing dog – and is performed between postures. For example if you are doing Warrior 1 with your right leg lunging forwards, at the end of the posture you would perform the vinyasa of chataraunga, upward dog, and downward dog, before repeating Warrior 1 with your left leg lunging forward. The Ashtanga series has a flow to it which is different from other Hatha yoga traditions that are a little more static int heir postures and movement.
Vinyasa yoga as such could be considered as a beginners lead in practice to Ashtanga. A typical Vinyasa yoga class takes elements from Ashtanga primary series together with the Vinyasa transitional postures and compiles a class of between 60 minutes – 90 minutes. In terms of postures the class may vary each time you go, depending on the instructor.
Some vinyasa classes will be high powered with a lot of emphasis on core strengthening and cardio. Other classes will be less intensive and have a focus on deep stretching – they may incorporate some elements of Yin Yoga into the second part of the class, that will help with opening hips and knee joints.
Vinyasa for Beginners – what makes it different
The main difference between Vinyasa and hot yoga classes – other than the fact that Vinyasa does not need to be performed in heated room – is the movement and transitioning between postures. Vinyasa is a dynamic practice, and there is a greater emphasis on core and upper body conditioning than what you will find in a hot yoga class.
You will also find that there is good opportunity within the Vinyasa system to challenge yourself with new postures. Inversions – shoulder stand, head stand, hand stands – are incorporated into Vinyasa, and although challenging postures, they are very beneficial and over time can be learned by most practitioners.
One of the big benefits of Vinyasa is its flexibility in terms of class structure. having a range of postures that can vary from day to day, yet having the foundations of vinyasa transitioning, and sun salute warmups, means that your body is less likely to fall into patterns of movement. Life is about dealing with unexpected events each day, so having a yoga practice that is not set in stone and can serve up unexpected postures to be practiced helps you in the real world (outside of a yoga studio). A regular practice that is the same each day can lead to an absorption in the process and comfort knowing what is coming next. Vinyasa can force you out of your comfort zone, which in itself can be confronting.
Another major difference and benefit of learning beginners vinyasa is that it provides you with a yoga practice you can do anywhere. You don’t require a hot room, or a studio, or any room at all. You can do vinyasa outside, on the beach, on vacation, in a hotel room. Once you have learned the basics of vinyasa then youa re free to practice anywhere and this is a huge benefit for those who get benefit from yoga.
Try a beginners Vinyasa yoga class – it may not be for you just yet, but the value of experimentation when it comes to yoga practices is also an important part of the process.