Vinyasa Yoga: to place in a sacred way

Costa Rica Yoga Pavones Yoga Center Indira Kate Kalmbach Yoga Costa Rica

In recent times, vinyasa yoga’s been getting a bad rap.  It hurts people, it’s too fast, not contemplative enough… I’ve heard these complaints and I know students for whom each case is true.  And yet.

Another take on vinyasa is the more literal translation from sanskrit: “to place in a sacred way” or even more simply, “to connect.”   As I consider the whole range of yoga students from beginners to more seasoned practitioners, we could all benefit from more of this vinyasa.  In deciding how to group postures to make students’ learning process so invisible that it feels effortless and fun, we can encounter new territories in the land of sequencing.  As a gateway to the energetic effects of each posture group (twists, forward bends, front extensions, lateral extensions), explore one posture at a time as a meditation in movement.

In approaching the vinyasa within a single pose, I take my inspiration from the jellyfish.  I’m enchanted by the movement mechanics of these translucent little beings.  Try this: Choose any posture with which you are familiar.  Move into the asana, settling in consciously, in a sacred way.  Subtly expand the asana with an inhalation.  The expansion is a micro-movement like the opening of the jellyfish, but felt and sensed from the inside more than visible to the outside world.  As you exhale, picture the peaceful contracting pulse of the jellyfish that propels it forward, this is the engagement of the bandhas that similarly propels Prana through the central channel.  Notice how engaging and disengaging each bandha affects the integrity of the posture.   Allow each breath to guide you into a further layers of exploration: muscle engagement and release, the underlying bone and joint structure and relation to each other.

Each of these investigations is a study in the flow of Prana.   The vinyasa within the single posture is much more subtle, yet the concentration and the energetic effects of the asana definitely pop.  The pulse of breath radiates through the stillness of the body.  This encourages a natural slowing and lengthening of the mind’s wave-lengths.  As we learn to disengage from our mind-chatter, a broader field of awareness emerges.  In other words: Prana takes charge.

I know that I will eventually crave and gravitate toward the kick ass vinyasa class set to all of my favorite tunes.  I’m just saying that, right now, I am loving the other vinyasa.  One of my favorite rough translations of the Bhagavada Gita has Krishna telling the hesitating warrior Arjuna “It is better to practice your own yoga, however imperfectly, than to practice the yoga of another perfectly.”  It is through our imperfections that we are able to meet at the level of human to human.  That’s the juicy part of life.  So I salute your dharma, your yoga, and especially your imperfections, and my own.


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