What is Vinyasa Yoga?
An introduction to Vinyasa Yoga in Toronto
Understanding each style of yoga can also help you choose an intention for each practice that is best supported by the class style. For example, ending up in a fast-moving Vinyasa class in the hot studio when you’re feeling ungrounded or anxious can be counterproductive if you aren’t sure what to expect or aren’t familiar with the sequence. However, knowing what to expect in the class can help you set an intention and a focus that can help you get grounded even when the course moves quickly.
The Vinyasa class incorporates the concept of Flow first discussed by the academic Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. You know that feeling of being “in the zone” or losing track of time because you’re so absorbed in what you’re doing? Csikszentmihalyi is defined as “Flow,” and that’s the feeling that a Vinyasa yoga class is meant to evoke.
There are several aspects to achieving a state of Flow – going to a Vinyasa yoga class doesn’t automatically get you there (we wish). The first is a match in the level of challenge versus your level of skill. If the class is too easy, we get bored; if the course is too hard, we get frustrated. Remember that the class level is not entirely dependent on the sequence the teacher is leading; it also has to do with how you challenge yourself to focus on specific aspects of the practice. The teacher could guide a relatively simple sequence, and experienced practitioners would be expected to focus on refining each pose, matching breath to movement, and staying present. In contrast, beginners might be primarily focused on following the Flow of the class and keeping their breath even.
The second and third aspects of Flow are clear goals and immediate feedback. These translate to in a Vinyasa yoga class are clear instructions, so you know exactly what you’re supposed to do and feedback in alignment cues and adjustments. Feedback can also come in the form of self-adjustment, depending on the feeling of the pose for those who have been practicing for longer. There are other aspects of Flow, but these are the primary ones that we focus on in a Vinyasa class.
In terms of the sequence, the defining piece of Vinyasa yoga is the use of a Vinyasa as a transitional sequence between poses. The Vinyasa we typically use is based on the Ashtanga version of a Vinyasa, which moves from standing to stepping or jumping back into a plank, lowering through chaturanga (a push-up), then moving into Upward Dog (a backbend) and then Downward Dog. The overall focus of a Vinyasa is moving seamlessly from pose to pose while matching your movement to your breath.
This practice can be very challenging in the hot room, especially for beginner yogis. In a Vinyasa yoga class, we typically do not spend more than five breaths in a single pose, so there is not much time to explore how each pose is set up and aligned. Some teachers may incorporate movement within each pose as well as between poses: for example, you may be moving your arms with your breath in a Warrior pose rather than staying completely still.
A Vinyasa yoga class with IAM YOGA typically starts with several full Vinyasas to warm up, moves into a sequence of standing poses linked together with more Vinyasas for the bulk of the practice, then spends the last 15-20 minutes in seated or supine (lying on the floor) poses. Most classes will open with some kind of grounding and tuning into your breath, and all classes will end with Savasana (lying on the ground in stillness).
No matter how you’re feeling, you are always welcome to take any kind of class you wish. However, it can be helpful to understand how to either supplement or counter the energy of the class to get what you need from the practice. For example, Vinyasa yoga classes tend to be busy, high-energy, fast-moving practices. If you’re feeling anxious, ungrounded, or overwhelmed, this may be the wrong class for you, and you may want to try something slower like Hatha. On the other hand, you could attend a Vinyasa yoga class but make your intention to slow down the pace and focus on your breath and the sensation of your body against the ground (all helpful things in grounding your energy). That way, even in a fast-paced, high-energy class, your practice is getting you exactly what you need – allowing you to let go of anxiety and feel more stable and grounded by the end of the class.
Book a Vinyasa Yoga Class
No matter how you’re feeling, you are always welcome to take any kind of class you wish. However, it can be helpful to understand how to either supplement or counter the energy of the class to get what you need from the practice. For example, Vinyasa yoga classes tend to be busy, high-energy, fast-moving practices.
We believe in community - we really want to know how you're doing, what you're up to, how your day was... authentic connection is important to us!
We believe in offering dynamic, challenging and interesting classed built on fresh sequencing ... we spend a lot of time thinking about how to keep sequences fresh, classes challenging enough and our instruction interesting and innovative.
The mind is just as important to us as the body is... You'll sweat, you'll stretch and you'll strengthen in our classes but you will also learn a lot about how the science of mindfulness can improve your overall brain function and help you build optimal mental health.
We believe that your environment can influence your state of mind and as a result we have put lots of thought into designing beautiful spaces so you have a beautiful experience.
The best instructors
Meet our awesome yoga instructors who offers tons of classes
We do not project traditional ‘ideas’ around the meaning of ‘yoga’ onto our students or in our classes. Our instructors guide students and assist with adjustments to make each posture, breath, and action as effective as possible for the mind and the body – encouraging each individual to seek out their own definition of what ‘yoga’ should mean for them.