Here at mang’Oh, we offer a variety of yoga classes, and most of our classes are “flow” based. The technical word for the flow-based classes is Vinyasa.
While the word Vinyasa has colloquially come to mean “flowing,” Vinyasa is a Sanskrit word with multiple meanings. The root words are vi meaning “special” and nyasa meaning “to place.” Vinyasa means to place in a special way.
Not all of us come to yoga seeking “special” experience or insight. Yoga has much to offer in terms of strength, flexibility and stress release. Yet many of us discover an unexpected treasure in the practice.
Think about your socks at the end of a long day. You might peel them off with relief and hurl them towards the laundry hamper. Not much care there! What about your favorite shirt? Perhaps you hang it up after wearing, and wash it by hand to keep it safe from the ravages of the washing machine. You take care of this item because it is meaningful to you. And yet it is an every-day item. It is not so precious you can’t touch it, like a piece of art in a gallery, with guards all around it. It is a very real, every-day item that you love and cherish, yet use every day. This is what our yoga practice is like. It is simultaneously normal, every-day, and special and cherished.
In Vinyasa yoga, we are flowing from one pose to the next—yet we are not rushing or hurling our bodies from one shape to the next. We are placing our bodies into position with a certain amount of care. We look to align our bodies to avoid injury, but also to express dignity, presence and skillfulness. The word Yoga means “union”—union of body, mind and spirit; union of one’s actions in the world with one’s higher ideals; union of breath, presence and movement; union with our own hearts. Union of feeling whole, present, human and full of heart, right now.
Vinyasa is a moving meditation. It has much in common with creating music, chanting or using mala or rosary beads, creating mandalas of sand, the whirling of Dervishes. Vinyasa yoga is a manifestation of meditation into action and movement. It is simultaneously embodied and earthy, as well as spiritual and tender.
Just as we bring whole-hearted presence to our personal practice in vinyasa, the logistical sequencing of a vinyasa session has been put together with awareness and care. We don’t begin the session with the most challenging asana possible. We begin with centering, breathing, stretching, moving. We practice stabilizing and opening poses. We play with how one pose flows into the next, how certain shapes are similar in certain ways to facilitate transition. Then we work up to one or more “peak” poses that require greater strength, coordination and concentration. Once again, the sequence honors safety and skillfulness—and also thoughtfulness and presence.
May this practice bring you ease in the body, peace of mind and connection to Self.
About The Author:
Chintamani teaches classic and specialty yoga in New York City, and is a longtime Teacher Trainer in the mang’Oh 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Program. She continues to study yoga, yoga therapy and other healing modalities, including Anatomy, Pilates and Mindfulness Meditation. Chintamani is certified in Embodied Anatomy and Yoga and Kane School Pilates.
Chintamani’s classes blend mindfulness, alignment and joyful movement; encouraging safety and skillfulness, as well as freedom and expression. Chintamani’s mission is to get us all to move, breathe, find our joy, and feel connected and smart.