yoga in sacramento:
vinyasa and power yoga
What can I expect in a Vinyasa style class?
Expect an energetic flow style practice with a different mix of poses
each time and lots of emphasis on movement coordinated with the
It all comes from Ashtanga but frequently a with different sequencing
of poses than in the traditional Ashtanga series work. Our Ashtanga
1-2-3 classes are quite Ashtanga influenced yet offer a changing mix
of poses both familiar and esoteric. Other teachers may have a more
limited syllabus and will draw some things from the Ashtanga system
but also from other traditions.
Most teachers try to make the classes comfortable for fit beginners
yet include enough advanced poses to give experienced students a
challenge. If you're new, just set some limits in class and work on
modified versions of the more esoteric poses.
You should make the class fun, not an ordeal. Cheat, skip things,
take a break and just breathe occasionally. You'll develop strength,
endurance and mental focus over time.
Do the different brand names for flow classes mean anything?
Vinyasa yoga, power yoga, vinyasa flow and other similar class titles
don't really mean much as every teacher has their own take on how
to structure a flow style practice. You'll find easy power yoga classes
and very wild classes with other teachers labeled vinyasa flow.
Our Ashtanga 1-2-3 classes are on the more adventurous end of the
spectrum. Some teachers do the same routine all the time. We like to
have more fun by doing different poses each class -- and a wider
variety of poses as well. It's fun to explore and find a class and
teacher that feels right for you at this point in your practice.
What is a vinyasa, anyway?
The sanskrit word has several meanings. The most common usage
is to define a specific linking sequence (based on the sun salutation
-- chaturanga/up dog/down dog) that is coordinated with the breath
and gets you from pose to pose. The practice becomes a flow timed
to the breath instead of just a series of discrete postures.
The vinyasa gives rhythm to the practice, keeps the heat building,
builds upper body strength and acts as a counterpose to stretch the
legs and re-set the spine to neutral for the next sequence.
Where does the vinyasa yoga style come from?
The specific vinyasa format of linking poses with a chaturanga/up
dog/downdog sequence comes from the Ashtanga system of
practice. Some classical hatha styles use sun salutations but
generally only as a warm-up.
In a vinyasa based practice the flow continues throughout the class.
The Ashtanga style sun salutation practice of jumping to a plank is
unique compared to the classical practice of taking one leg back at a
time. Of course, the Ashtanga salutations have become common in
all sorts of hybrid practice styles.
What are other uses of the word vinyasa?
It can also be used (less commonly) to designate the particular
variations cycled through in the practice of a pose. Leg out in front is
vinyasa 1, folding forward onto it vinyasa 2, inhaling up vinyasa 3,
exhaling out to the side vinyasa 4, etc.
Any sequence of flowing from asana to asana can be called a
vinyasa -- it doesn't have to be related to the sun salutation
movements encountered in Ashtanga style practice.
What else is borrowed from Ashtanga?
The idea that the practice should be challenging, focused on
continuous ujjayi breathing, and constantly evolving as your practice
deepens. It all works toward the physical practice becoming a
What is the main difference between "power yoga" or
"vinyasa" classes and Ashtanga?
There are no fixed series of poses. Each class can be different. The
basic syntax of vinyasa yoga allows one to explore a changing
syllabus of poses. You can explore poses from the Ashtanga first,
second and third series in a more accessible manner than in series
While a fixed series practice has its advantages, it's also nice to
explore different combinations, different pacing, different variations
and different ways of entering and exiting the poses.
How does this differ from Iyengar yoga?
The poses come from the same source in both the Iyengar and
Ashtanga systems. When we talk about alignment and form in a
vinyasa class, that body of technique comes from Iyengar yoga.
Pattabhi Jois, the head of the Ashtanga lineage, and B.K.S. Iyengar
both had the same teacher, Krishnamacharya. Iyengar chose to
ignore the breathwork (which he likes teaching separately) and the
vinyasas of the Ashtanga system for his basic classes. More
advanced Iyengar practice involves what he calls "jumpings" -- much
like Surya Namaskara A from the Ashtanga system.
Is this related to Bikram "hot yoga"?
Not at all. That's from a different planet. In an Ashtanga-based
practice we develop the heat internally via challenging poses,
vinyasas, ujjayi breathing and bandhas rather than turning up the
The Bikram yoga series is not a flow practice, at least not as we
understand the word in the Ashtanga tradition. The Bikram series of
26 poses is good in a number of ways but it's more interesting to do
a wider variety of poses, include upper body work and inversions,
and teach yoga as a meditative tradition rather than just exercise.
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Vinyasa and Power Yoga FAQs