Vinyasa is the linking of breath with movement. Literally it refers to the connecting of discrete objects in a garland. For a yoga practice, where each pose is a small pause in a grander flow, the vinyasa represents our connection with something that is consistent, yet ever changing. This is one way in which a physical yoga practice connects with larger philosophical and spiritual ideals. As our pauses within each pose become more intentional we develop a closer connection with our own flow. Some poses (on some days) naturally show us the pleasant slow change of our bodies as our hamstrings subtly grow longer or our spine slowly elongates during a twist. These are great experiences. Other positions challenge our connection to ease and we doubt the integrated experience of our whole being, especially as we topple over in a challenging arm balance.
I did an experiment a couple years ago with trying to extend this awareness of vinyasa as I connected each discrete yoga practice during my week. I wrote down a list of poses and put that same list and a pen on the ground next to my mat everyday. Each practice I would do a normal series of poses that I need for maintenance and stress reduction (sun salutations, lunge series, a hip stretch, and some twisting) and I would do a couple poses from my list on the floor and mark down were I stopped for that day. The next day I did my normal series of poses and then added in poses from where I left off the day before. The conscious intention was to connect these practices into ONE practice, one continuous vinyasa. The reality is that our yoga practice is not an isolated event, its not something we do, its something we are. If you can find the subtle string that connects each yoga practice you become physically and intimately aware of your own ageing. A little heavy of an experience, but at the same time connecting to a process we all are facing together as one body, one maya.
I’ve added a version of the list I used to use to the practice materials section. This is a pretty rough list and has a mixture of sanscrit and english terms for poses. I hope the roughness of the pose list will show how simple designing a yoga practice can actually be–the hard part is actually doing it. Likely, some of them you won’t know what the hell I’m talking about, but use it as a guide to put together your own list, or email me if you need a description of any of them.