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A vinyasa[1] (Sanskrit: विन्यास, IAST: vinyāsa) is a smooth transition between asanas in flowing styles of modern yoga as exercise such as Vinyasa Krama Yoga and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, especially when movement is paired with the breath.


The vinyasa forms of yoga used as exercise, including Pattabhi Jois's 1948 Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and its spin-off schools such as Beryl Bender Birch's 1995 Power Yoga and others like Baptiste Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga, Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Power Vinyasa Yoga, and Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, derive from Krishnamacharya's development of a flowing aerobic style of yoga in the Mysore Palace in the early 20th century.[2][3]

Krishnamacharya's usage[edit]

According to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga's official history, Krishnamacharya learned the complete system of asanas (postures) and vinyasas (transitions) from an otherwise unknown document, the Yoga Kurunta, supposedly written 5,000 years ago by Vamana Rishi; the history tells that Krishnamacharya copied it out and taught it, unmodified, to Pattabhi Jois. However, the original manuscript was supposedly destroyed by ants, and no copy survives; neither Jois nor any other of Krishnamacharya's pupils transcribed it, as would have been expected in a traditional guru-shishya relationship. Further, Krishnamacharya "surprising[ly]"[4] did not cite the text in his 1935 Yoga Makaranda or his c. 1941 Yogasanagalu.[4] The Yogasanagalu did contain tables of asanas and vinyasas, and these are "comparable"[5] to Jois's system, but far from being fixed as written in an ancient manuscript, Krishnamacharya's "jumping" yoga style at the Mysore palace was constantly changing, adapted to the needs of specific pupils according to their ages, constitutions (deha), vocations (vrttibheda), capabilities (sakti), and paths (marga);[5] the approach was "experimental".[6] In contrast, the system that Krishnamacharya taught to Jois and that became the basis of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga was fixed. This may have been because Jois had to teach at the Sanskrit Pathasala in 1933, while Krishnamacharya's other pupils were studying at his Yogasala, so he may, Mark Singleton suggests, have taught the 18-year-old Jois a simple fixed sequence suitable for a novice teacher to use with large groups of boys.[7] Norman Sjoman notes that Krishnamacharya cited the 19th century Sritattvanidhi which documents asanas used in the Mysore palace in his early writings; his early vinyasas developed into forms more like those of Jois, something that Sjoman takes as evidence that Krishnamacharya created rather than inherited the vinyasas: "It was not an inherited format".[8][9]

Krishnamacharya used "vinyasa" in at least two different ways. One was in a broad sense to mean "an appropriately formulated sequence of steps (krama) for approaching a given posture".[10] The other was a "stage in the execution of an asana". For example, in Yoga Makaranda the Sarvangasana sequence is introduced with the words "This has 12 vinyasas [stages]. The 8th vinyasa is the asana sthiti [the actual pose]."[11]

Pattabhi Jois's usage[edit]

In contrast, Pattabhi Jois used "vinyasa" in a narrower sense to mean "the repetitious linking movements" between the asanas of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.[10] The Ashtanga yoga teacher Gregor Maehle explains that this flowing style "creates a movement meditation".[12] The vinyasa sequences used in the touring demonstrations of Krishnamacharya's yoga were, according to an interview with Jois, "virtually identical to the aerobic schema" of modern Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, namely "several distinct 'series' within which each main asana is conjoined by a short, repeated, linking series of postures and jumps based on the Surya Namaskar model".[13]

Sharath Jois's usage[edit]

Modern vinyasa yoga such as is taught by Sharath Jois (grandson of Pattabhi Jois) coordinates the breath with the vinyasa transition movements between asanas.[14] A particular sequence of asanas, also called a vinyasa, is used repeatedly in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga classes; it involves Chaturanga Dandasana (Low Staff Pose), Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Dog Pose) and Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose) to link other asanas.[14] Sharath Jois defines vinyasa as a system of breathing and movement.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vinyasa". Lexico. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved 30 November 2019. Definition of vinyasa in English:... Origin Sanskrit vinyāsa 'movement, position (of limbs)'.
  2. ^ Singleton 2010, p. 176.
  3. ^ "Vinyasa Yoga". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b Singleton 2010, p. 184.
  5. ^ a b Singleton 2010, p. 188.
  6. ^ Singleton 2010, p. 186.
  7. ^ Singleton 2010, pp. 189–190.
  8. ^ Sjoman 1999, p. 52.
  9. ^ Cushman, Anne (Jul–Aug 1999). New Light on Yoga. p. 43. ISSN 0191-0965. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  10. ^ a b Singleton 2010, p. 190.
  11. ^ Krishnamacharya 2006, p. 146.
  12. ^ Maehle, Gregor (2007). Ashtanga yoga : practice and philosophy : a comprehensive description of the primary series of Ashtanga yoga, following the traditional Vinyasa count, and an authentic explanation of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. Novato, Calif: New World Library. p. 294. ISBN 978-1-57731-606-0. OCLC 776703947. Sequential movement that interlinks postures to form a continuous flow. It creates a movement meditation that reveals all forms as being impermanent and for this reason are not held on to.
  13. ^ Singleton 2010, p. 195.
  14. ^ a b "Vinyasa Yoga Sequences". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  15. ^ "THE PRACTICE | SHARATH JOIS". Archived from the original on 21 February 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.


External links[edit]

  • Media related to Vinyasa at Wikimedia Commons