Vinyasa what?

Yoga gets called a lot of things, which can be confusing. I teach Vinyasa Flow, but before I explain exactly what that is, we should take a look at some of the other styles. I like to think of all these different styles as people at some sort of wild yogi party, so let me introduce you to a couple of them:

The one splashing around in a pool of sweat by the fire is Bikram, who likes to do accessible yoga poses in less-accessible 40 degree heat. Derivatives include Hot Power Yoga and such like, which won’t follow Bikram’s sequence but will be focused on getting hot, hot, hot. 

The one lying down in the corner is restorative yoga, who doesn’t get up for much but know’s how to wind down properly when he does. Next to restorative sits Yin yoga, who’s similarly slow-paced and might encourage you to do a bit of chanting.

The more enthusiastic chanting you can hear is coming from next door, where Jivamukti is guiding everyone’s hearts like rafts across a vast ocean of being, before getting them into a real sweat and covering them in a vicks-like cream with a eastern-sounding name, like China gel. Power yoga is also sweating out in a corner, slipping press-ups and ab curls into the sequence, which makes the practice a bit more like aerobics but without the shouting or the awful dance music.

Stern, powerful, and unchanging Ashtanga Vinyasa will be standing in the middle of the room in a fierce mountain pose, breathing like Darth Vader and ready for a 90-minute sequence. The sequence never changes, which should allow the mind to stop anticipating what comes next. Once the primary sequence has been mastered, students move onto second one, and so on. Each sequence works towards increasing levels of pretzel-ness (that is, if you’ve ever seen a pretzel with its legs behind its head).

And finally, we have Vinyasa Flow. Like the naughty child of Ashtanga Vinyasa, Vinyasa ‘Vinnie’ Flow inherits a lot of the style and structure of ashtanga, but gets all free and easy with sequencing. For instance, a vinyasa flow class can target hips, taking any hip-opening poses it likes from across the ashtanga sequences. There might even be a few tricks taken from other fitness disciplines, but you can be sure that each class will have an apex pose to work towards, and will round off with a solid closing sequence and, most important of all, a good lie down at the end.

In any case, the best way to get a feel for which yogi you really get on with at this party is to go over and take a class.

Copyright © 2012 Galen O’Hanlon.

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