The term vinyasa is one of my favourites in the yoga world. It is one of those words that encompasses so many different concepts, and which also conveys a deep meaning.
When talking about vinyasa, the first thing that comes to mind is the style of yoga with this name. This style is characterized by joining poses in sequences, where the body moves guided by the rhythm of the breath. It is a highly creative style and it is also known as flow yoga, because we allow the body to flow through movement and breath.
Another concept we refer to under vinyasa is a very particular sequence that can be repeated any number of times during the practice. This mini sequence can be used as a transition between different parts of the practice and includes the poses of chaturanga, upward facing dog (urdhva mukha svanasana) and downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana).
If we keep digging the meaning of this concept, we understand that vinyasa is a natural progression for things to happen. Step by step we go from one place to the other, and every step is essential for the entirety of the experience. In a literal sense in the yoga practice, this means that we move from one pose to the next in an appropriate and conscious manner, in a string of movements that takes us to our final goal in a safe way.
It isn’t difficult to transpose this idea to our daily life. We can appreciate the essence of vinyasa in our day-to-day routines and rituals. We perfectly perceive it in the principle of cause and effect, when we understand that everything that happens to us, originates from something prior to that moment. Considered from this perspective, vinyasa turns into a kind of dance with the universe. Depending on the direction we move toward, so does our dance evolve either in a fluid way or with a few stumbles here and there.
In time I have learned to clearly see the existence of this dance. Curiously, every time my husband asked me how my day was, if it had been a great day, my answer was that “everything had been great, because everything was flowing.” I wasn’t always conscious of the extent of my words. The sensation of fluidity existed, but I didn’t yet understand how profound it was, what I had just said. Because in truth, when a day is marvelous in that sense, it is so because you are in communion with your vinyasa. Or in other words, that day you have been in tune with the universe. No wonder that a day may seem wonderful if you are in harmony with the whole universe, right? Getting to that conclusion is something that really opens your eyes.
In order to follow the natural course of this dance, we must pay attention to the steps we take: where am I right now and where do I want to arrive. In terms of asana practice, taking the idea of vinyasa seriously means that the practice will be different every day, because we find ourselves in a different place, internally and externally, every day. We must not ignore who we are at any time. A very clear example would be doing a very strong physical practice when what we really need is rest, and to do so because we think our practice should be this or that way, or that we should be stronger or need to prove something. In order to tune in, the beginning of the practice focuses on connecting with our physical, mental and emotional state. All that will determine what the practice will be like. The start can include breathing exercises, slow fluid movements or a short meditation. Later, during the practice, our breath is a fantastic anchor to help us concentrate and an infallible indicator that will detect when we are deviating from our natural flow. It is all about entering the dance of effortless effort. Yes, it is called a dance, not a struggle.
Practicing yoga subscribing to this idea of vinyasa will help us in our everyday life, by means of offering us clarity when making decisions based on respecting our needs and aspirations. The universe wants you to be happy, to be healthy, to feel fulfilled and held. And thus, it will let us know when something is not aligned with our needs and aspirations. There are tons of examples where you can see this. When we eat something that doesn’t do us good, but we keep doing it because we have been eating it all our life and we don’t want to change our habits. When we choose to get involved in activities that don’t provide us any energy, just because it’s the easiest way to fill up our time. When we stay in relationships that hurt us, only because we have been in them for so long. When we do or say things mindlessly, knowing that our true essence is not reflected in them, simply because we don’t want to questions anything, least of all ourselves.
We have heard it so many times, that it almost starts to sound superfluous: we must understand where we come from and where we are going. In fact, that is what it is all about and in the same way it happens in the yoga practice, it’s all about keeping practicing. Carry out lots of self-inquiry, with whatever means are available to us. It doesn’t need to be yoga or meditation, if these practices aren’t close to you, if they aren’t in tune with you. Nobody knows better than you, what makes you feel in harmony.
As we go deeper into this practice, we realize that there are as many opportunities to practice, as there are moments in our life. At the end of the yoga class, the practice of vinyasa continues by how we fold the blanket, how we place the blocks back, how we move around other people. And then it continues, in the form of how we make our way back home, what energy we take we us. Whatever happens after every action, we can decide to do it with total awareness, hand in hand with vinyasa, or we can turn on the autopilot and lose the rhythm of this beautiful dance. But the most beautiful of all, is that even when we have lost our way and disconnected from our natural flow, we can always jump back in again. This is the real practice, the practice of life.
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