Vinyasa yoga is arguably the one of the most popular types of yoga in the Western world - so much so, even Beyoncé is reported to be a fan. Not sure what the it actually entails or what sets it apart from other forms of the practice? Look no further.
As Angie Tiwari, yoga instructor and founder of Unearthed explains, "Vinyasa literally translates from the Sanskrit as to set down or place ("nyasa") in a special way ("vi")." During the practice, you move from one pose to the next in a style that originally came from Ashtanga yoga.
First made popular by a yogi named Sri Krishnamacharya, the workout now been practiced for hundreds of years, with plenty of studies backing Vinyasa yoga as a brilliant sweat sessions for working out both body and mind.
Vinyasa yoga: your guide to the strength-boosting at home workout
What is Vinyasa yoga?
As Tiwari explains, Vinyasa is rooted in Ashtanga yoga, a style based on movement. "Vinyasa is more dynamic and energising compared to a restorative yin practice, but not quite as strong as Ashtanga," she goes on.
There are also less rules to Vinyasa - unlike Ashtanga, which is defined by its sequential style, Vinyasa is about flowing. In that sense, vinyasa yoga is one of the best yogas for beginners.
That said, it's still a great workout, shares Elodie Gythiel, yoga student and co-founder of livestream platform Live Yoga Teachers. "A Vinyasa class is physically demanding as there is no break between poses, so expect to work on your cardio and be sweating," says Gythiel. Not to mention, in a Vinyasa class, your breath is expected to guide your practice, which adds a meditative element and improves physical performance.
"Flowey and upbeat, sometimes with a playlist in the background, Vinyasa poses are creatively linked together, making the flow look almost like a dance," Gythiel explains. That's as an alternative to stepping between poses, or holding positions for extended periods of time as in other yoga styles.
A simple vinyasa flow involves sequences might begin by flowing between these yoga moves:
- Downward facing dog
- Upward facing dog.
What are the benefits of vinyasa yoga?
As Vinyasa yoga is a physical yoga, there are big benefits to your body. A 2021 paper found that a single session of the yoga reduced cholesterol and arterial stiffness, while another paper from Oakland University found fitness levels and muscular strength increased, not to mention levels of the stress hormone cortisol decreased, after eight weeks of practicing.
The same paper also found that self-acceptance and relationships with others were greatly improved after the eight-week course, and research from Brown University found that yoga improved mood by 23%.
One of the most recent studies in Vinyasa yoga, published earlier this year in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found a 12-week course of vinyasa yoga significantly reduced sleep problems and stress in cancer patients.
Summed up, it's been proven to boost:
- Reduced cholesterol
- Reduced stiffness
- Boosts fitness levels
- Improves muscular strength
- Reduces stress levels
- Boosts mental health
- Improves mood
- Improves sleep quality.
How to do vinyasa yoga:
It's important to note here that with Vinyasa, there is no set sequence - rather, it's about listening to your body and enjoying flowing from pose to pose.
That said, if you're a beginner, one of the best ways to get to grips with Vinyasa is by going to a class where a yoga teacher can lead you through poses and help to correct your form.
Not so keen and would rather get started at home? Following a simple Vinyasa flow video can be useful. We love the following free videos:
1. 10 minute full body Vinyasa with Arianna Elizabeth
2. 20 minute Vinyasa flow with Yoga With Adrienne
3. 20 minute power flow with Laruga Glaser
4. 30 minute full body flow with Cat Meffan
5. 40 minute power yoga with Gayatri Yoga
6. 40 minute energising Vinyasa flow with Yoga By Biola
Is Vinyasa ok for beginners?
Good question - and short answer, yes, it's one of the best types of yoga to try if you're at beginner level for a number of reasons.
As it's main focus is flowing movements, you'll get your heart rate up and a sweat on without having to know a set routine - rather, the coach will explain each pose for you as you flow through it.
There will likely be plenty of time spent in downward dog or child's pose between more dynamic poses, too, making it a great, accessible for all option.
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Chloe Gray is a freelance journalist who writes and talks about health, fitness, and wellbeing through a feminist lens. She was part of the launch team for Stylist magazine's fitness brand, Strong Women, and has written for i news, Women's Health, Red magazine, Good Housekeeping, Refinery29, and more. She's all about building mental and physical strength, eating delicious food that fuels you well, and making the fitness industry more accessible and enjoyable. She's also a qualified fitness trainer and research nerd, so you can be sure everything you read is backed by proper science.
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