Vinyasa is a Sanskrit word, which refers to breath and movement. For example each Yoga posture is matched by one breath. This is what you do when you perform Sun or Moon salutations, and these are also a form of Vinyasa Yoga.
So, any sequences of postures that are synchronized, with your breath are classified as Vinyasa. There are many forms of Vinyasa and even the gentle ones are vigorous. The postures are not held in a fixed position for long and classes flow with rhythm, similar to music. The energy used in flowing from one movement, to the next, continues throughout a typical Vinyasa Yoga class. This type of Yoga class will challenge aerobic endurance, enhance flexibility, and build overall strength.
There are many variations of Vinyasa Yoga classes. Some are related to or offshoots of Ashtanga Yoga, some are very gentle, and others are variations of extended Sun or Moon sequences. The variety of Vinyasa classes is further expanded when you consider different sequences, pace of the class, and the temperature of the room.
What about heated Yoga classes; is this hot Yoga? The temperature can vary depending upon the policy of the Yoga studio. At our wellness center in North Providence, RI, the temperature can be near 80 Fahrenheit during winter months. During the summer months, we keep the temperature in the low 70's. That is a far cry from a 105-degree hot Yoga or Bikram classes.
Most of the heat generated in a typical Vinyasa class is internal body heat. As a result of all this internal heat, you will most likely sweat. Therefore, bring a towel and a bottle of good quality water. When used for personal health maintenance, Vinyasa Yoga is the ultimate cross training system, with low impact movement, aerobic, and muscle toning benefits.
Your body will go through an incredible transformation, but it does require determination. This explains why Vinyasa Yoga attracts so many type A personalities. Even if you don't have a type A personality, it will rub off. As a "by product" of Vinyasa practice, your self-esteem will be improved. You will manage stress and develop a much more calm personality. Now, where do you start? Find a local school with at least two levels of Vinyasa practice.
If you have been on the couch for a while, it will be best to take some gentle Yoga classes first. However, if you are very active, you may want to jump right in. You should have an honest talk with your Yoga teacher, before starting Vinyasa practice. It's always best to be honest with yourself, about your level of fitness.
Have fun, but do not push yourself, when you are in unfamiliar territory.
Paul Jerard, is a co-owner/director of Yoga teacher training at Aura Wellness Center. He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. He is a master instructor of martial arts. He teaches Yoga, martial arts, and fitness to children, adults, and seniors. Recently he wrote: Is Running a Yoga Business Right for You? For Yoga students, who may be considering a new career as a Yoga teacher. http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org