Hot Flow – Vinyasa Yoga
What does Vinyasa mean?
Vinyasa in sanskrit has a variety of meanings. In relation to yoga it means “a gradual progression from one pose to the next pose, initiated by breath”. When a teacher says “now take a vinyasa” in most classes what they’re actually meaning is for you to perform a “sun salutation” which is the most common form of vinyasa practiced in yoga classes. In fitness jargon, the vinyasa-flow class is a dynamic class (constant movement) as opposed to a static class (maintaining stillness, such as in Hatha yoga).
Sun Salutation Flow – Vinyasa:
The above version of the sun salution is adapted as per the instructors lesson plan. Especially in hot flow-vinyasa classes you may see posture #4 and #9 omitted and then inserted in another part of the class. This series looks fairly easy and is suitable for most beginner but if done correctly in a properly heated room, you will work up a sweat after just 2 or 3 rounds, trust me!
The most important thing to remember in a hot vinyasa class is to:
Breathe, Breathe, Breathe!
A down dog knows that a qualified Vinyasa instructor should be preceding each posture call with either an “inhale” or “exhale” cue. This should be the case during the entire class. Without the breath, there is no yoga. The sun salutation vinyasa is the basis of most flow classes, hot or not. This basic vinyasa is combined with a standing series, usually followed by a floor series. However I’ve attended classes that combine the sun salutation with Pilates mat exercises, arm balances, and other variations. But the basics remain the same, in-hale, move, ex-hale, move. If you’re a yoga instructor looking for some cueing tips, please go to the teachers corner page.
Because a vinyasa or flow yoga class involves constant movement, there is sometimes the assumption that it must be more difficult.
Hmm, let’s have a look at this…
Vinyasa (Flow) vs Hatha yoga (non-flow)
Some studios name their flow classes Power Yoga which implies that flow classes are more strenuous than non-flow classes. So, which type of class is easier? There’s no homogenous answer to this because everyone is different. I personally find flow classes to be LESS difficult and I will attempt to argue in favour of that. When you are flowing from one posture to another at some point you will use momentum to assist you, especially if the instructor cues the flow in quick succession. You have little or no time to focus on specific muscular tension, i.e. your muscles don’t usually do the “shakey” thing in vinyasa classes.
A quick experiment might be more meaningful:
A test – Is Vinyasa or Hatha harder?
- Take your resting heart rate.
- Make sure you’re warmed up before beginning the flows
- Set a timer
- Do 4 sun salutions in a row timing yourself, beginning to end
- Note the time.
- Take your heart rate.
- Rest (back to resting heart rate, or do #8 the next day)
- Set the timer for the time it took to do the 4 vinyasas
- Get into chair pose, go to your edge, hold it for as long as you possibly can or until the clock runs out.
- Take your heart rate as soon as you come out of the pose (you may not last the whole time)
- The higher heart rate tells give you which yoga is harder for you.
Hot Vinyasa for Beginners
If you’re a complete yoga beginner I would recommend you try a Hot Hatha based class to start with, just to get the hang of the postures and the effect of the heat on your body. After a couple of classes, definitely go for a Vinyasa / Flow class. I do a combination of various hot classes and I know definitely, for my body, the Hatha series is more challenging, however I favour the flow classes because, again just for me, they are more fun and dynamic. For more beginner information please read Types of Hot Yoga and Beginner’s Guide to Hot Yoga.
And, that’s a wrap. See you next post.
Comments are welcome, please leave yours in the box below. Cheerio, Connie