Vinyasa yoga and breathing

Vinyasa is a Sanskrit word which has several meanings in yoga. Literally, Nyasa means 'put' and saw 'in one place in particular.'

In yoga, Vinyasa's first meaning is 'union of breathing and movement'. The traditional greeting to the sun is an example, where every move is coupled with some breathing, for instance, inhalation raising your arms toward the sky; exhale twice, down to the waist and carrying the arms down to the ground.

As a general rule, inhalation corresponds to movements of opening and closure or bending to exhale. When you practice, you can almost feel that it arises in a natural way, this is facilitating the movement by breathing: inhale to use the full capacity of our lungs, and closing to exhale.

Vinyasa is also being made in transitions between poses that are maintained, as the movement that exists between the different Asanas forming series of Ashtanga. They are used to maintain the concentration (instead of moving from one to another without further Asano), and also to balance the effect of a position, neutralize and prepare for the next. These movements require energy, and help to produce internal heat, fire (agni) purification.

Vinyasa Kramer refers to the steps that one takes toward a direction in particular. T.K.V. Desikachar spoke about it in his book The Heart of Yoga. He refers to it as streaming our practice to reach a certain point, from the point where we are at this time. It can be applied to how to adapt yoga to different people and needs, as well as to utilize the technology of yoga in a wise and intelligent way to create an evolution, a change (for example, change the energy at a time when we feel nervous or anxious, or long term, increase our concentration).

Finally, Vinyasa is the name that is known as a form of practice that emphasizes the union of some positions with others, in a fluid (flowing) manner. It stems from the first meaning, the union of movement and breathing. Breathing is the pace that marks our passage through this life, and practicing this form of yoga is like dancing with your breath.

Using Ujjay breathing, you inhale and exhale through the nostrils, closing the passage of air through the glottis, in a way that produces a sound like the "ocean" Ujjay breathing is very powerful, among other effects it creates a state of deep concentration, "takes you inside yourself". It is important to learn how to make it so smooth, without force, and if possible to produce the same sound to exhale and inhale.

I particularly like this form of yoga, fluid between the poses, concentrated in the sound of the waves of my breath. It's really a meditation in motion. In my classes I try to reach this fluidity, but I think it is very important to learn the Asanas and the right alignment before you can put them in motion.

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