Vinyasa Yoga, Breath-Synchronized Movement

Like the term “Hatha,” Vinyasa Yoga can be used to refer to a number of class types. As a specific type of yoga, it refers to yoga with poses that flow into each other consistent with the breathing. This breathing-oriented flow of poses makes it swift and vigorous in most cases. This is included in Ashtanga yoga (better known as “Power yoga”).

In reference to poses, Vinyasa can describe the poses performed between repeats of “Downward Facing Dog” in a Sun Salutation: Plank, “Four Limbed Staff”, and “Upward Facing Dog”.

To enter the Plank pose from Downward Facing Dog, bring your torso forward until your body is straight and your shoulders are directly over your wrists (comparable to a push-up position). Press down firmly through your forearms and hands, widen your shoulder blades, and press back through the heels, regardless of whether your heels touch the floor or not. Make sure your neck stays in line with your spine. Once you’ve mastered it, you can try performing the pose with one leg lifted at a time.

From Plank, enter the Four Limbed Staff by bending your arms straight back, hugging your upper arms to your sides. Lower yourself to the floor until your forearms and upper arms are at a right angle, keeping your body level throughout. Push back on your heels while pressing into your palms. (Beginners can leave their knees on the floor until they build the strength to hold up their bodies.) Once you’ve mastered this pose, you can try shifting into this pose while leaving one leg up from the advanced Plank pose.

To progress into Upward Facing Dog, tuck in your toes to roll over your feet as you come forward. Don’t let your thighs touch the floor. Keep the legs tensed and off the floor, pressing into the floor with the tops of your feet and with your palms. Make sure your shoulders remain over the wrists, and drop your hips. Beginners might find it easier to transition by dropping their thighs to the floor, flipping their feet over one at a time, then raising their legs again to move into Upward Facing Dog.

These beginner yoga poses require concentration to master. Many beginners find it difficult to master these poses, much less to do them swiftly in time to breathing, which is where the difficulty in Vinyasa Yoga arises.

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