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How to Do a Vinyasa in Yoga


If you've ever taken a Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Flow, or Power Yoga class, you've probably heard the phrase, "take a vinyasa." Many teachers of these particular yoga styles offer this instruction or some variation, such as, "flow through your vinyasa" or "do the vinyasa of your choice."

Sounds easy enough, right? If only you knew what a vinyasa was!

Definition of "Vinyasa"

The word "vinyasa" literally means, "to place in a certain way." It is used to describe the linking of breath with movement during a Vinyasa Yoga class, a style that includes, but is not limited to, Ashtanga, Flow, and Power Yoga. These classes consist of a steady flow of yoga postures, each performed with a specific instruction to inhale or exhale. This creates a fluid and continuous movement between poses. Connecting one's awareness with the breath also creates a moving meditation that calms and focuses the mind.

Vinyasa also refers to the specific sequence of poses that lead up to Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) in a Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara). During a Vinyasa Yoga class, this specific sequence is also performed between other poses. For example, when moving from Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) to Triangle Pose (Trikonasana), your teacher might instruct you to move through a vinyasa after Warrior II before landing in Triangle. Keep reading to learn how to do this!

Yoga meets you where you're at. But stay open to the understanding that the more you do yoga, doors open, and the invitation is to simply explore.

Seane Corn

Essential Components of a Vinyasa

"Taking a vinyasa" is basically a mini Sun Salutation. But instead of beginning and ending in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), you begin in Plank Pose and end in Downward-Facing Dog. There are two variations. The first one is appropriate for beginners, while the second is suitable for intermediate and advanced students.

Start in any pose. You can be standing or seated. If you are lying down, come to a seated position or to your hands and knees. Then, follow the instructions as listed below.

Beginner Vinyasa Sequence

  1. Plank Pose — Kumbhakasana
    • Inhale as you come into a high push-up position, with your hands under your shoulders and feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Knees-Chest-Chin Pose — Ashtanga Namaskara
    • Exhale as you lower your knees to the floor, keeping your elbows tucked in toward your sides. Keep your hips lifted off the floor, but bring your chest and chin to the floor. Place your chest between your hands
  3. Cobra Pose — Bhujangasana
    • Inhale as you draw your chest forward, keeping your hands underneath your shoulders. Extend your legs along the floor and un-tuck your toes. Draw your shoulders back and lift your chest slightly. Keep your lower ribs on the floor.
  4. Downward-Facing Dog Pose — Adho Mukha Svanasana
    • Exhale as you lift your hips and roll over your toes, placing the soles of your feet on the floor. Ground down through your hands and the soles of your feet as you lengthen your spine. Lift your belly and sit bones to the sky.

Intermediate Vinyasa Sequence

  1. Plank Pose — Kumbhakasana
    • Inhale as you come into a high push-up position with your hands under your shoulders and feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Four-Limbed Staff Pose — Chaturanga Dandasana
    • Exhale as you lower your body toward the floor, hovering about four inches above your mat. Keep your elbows tucked in toward your sides. Straighten your legs and reach back through your heels.
  3. Upward-Facing Dog Pose — Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
    • Inhale as you draw your chest forward and straighten your arms. Draw your shoulders back and lift your heart to the sky. Press through the tops of your feet, lifting your thighs off the floor and fully engaging your leg muscles. Keep your elbows tucked in toward your sides.
  4. Downward-Facing Dog Pose — Adho Mukha Svanasana
    • Exhale as you lift your hips and roll over your toes, placing the soles of your feet on the floor. Ground down through your hands and the soles of your feet as you lengthen your spine. Lift your belly and sit bones to the sky.

Finding Flow

Adding a vinyasa sequence between poses provides a flowing, dance-like quality to your yoga practice. You can perform a vinyasa between standing, balancing, seated, inverted, or even supine poses. The most important part of doing a vinyasa is linking your breath with your movement. You will build heat and strength in your body, while gaining flexibility and a calm mind. For more information about Vinyasa Yoga and its components, be sure to check out the iSport guide, Vinyasa Yoga Basics!

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