A vinyasa is a short series of movements done between the longer poses of a yoga sequence to help link everything together. Think of it as a mini Sun Salutation. Moving through a vinyasa helps make transitions more fluid, graceful, and active. If you're ready to get serious about yoga, it's time to get serious about doing a vinyasa correctly.
Four-Limbed Staff Pose
- How you start your vinyasa will differ depending on the last pose you were in. If you're coming from a seated position, then on a big inhale, plant your palms firmly next to your hips, and bend your knees up to your chest. Cross your right leg in front of your left just below the knees, engage your abs, and lift your feet and hips off the ground, jumping back into Chaturanga Dandasana, or Four-Limbed Staff Pose.
- If you're coming to Chaturanga from a standing pose, then plant your hands at the top of your mat and either step or jump both feet back (so you're in a push-up position) and bend your elbows straight behind you. As you lower into Four-Limbed Staff on an exhale, your elbows should be brushing against the sides of your body and end at a 90-degree angle.
- Keep your body parallel to the ground and your shoulders parallel with your elbows. Draw your navel toward your spine to protect your lower back.
Upward Facing Dog
- On an inhale, scoop your chest forward, balancing on the tops of your feet and your hands, coming into Upward Facing Dog. If it's too much on your lower back, then rest your hips and thighs on the mat. You'll still reap the same benefits of the pose.
- If it feels comfortable, then lower your head back between your shoulder blades. Roll your shoulders open, and actively release them down away from your ears, stretching through your chest and throat.
Keep reading to learn how to finish off your vinyasa correctly.
Downward Facing Dog
- From Upward Facing Dog, exhale, tuck your toes, lift your hips, and push back into the upside down "V" shape called Downward Facing Dog.
- Spread your fingers wide, and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button.
- If you're going back to a seated pose, then inhale, look between your hands, bend your knees, and, at the bottom of your exhale, jump off the balls of your feet and come into a seated position. In traditional Ashtanga yoga, you jump your feet through your hands and land softly on your bum. If that's not happening, then simply jump or step your feet to your hands, and sit on your mat.
- If you're going to move to another standing posture, then simply stay in your Downward Facing Dog, taking deep, full belly breaths until you step or hop to the top of your mat and continue the sequence.
Photos: Jenny Sugar