There are so many people around the world who’ve had a regular Bikram practice for decades. It is their whole yoga practice. It nourishes and heals, making growing older an interesting journey, instead of something to be feared and avoided. The promise of a spine that stays young even as the years fly by is compelling. All yoga is a journey, and not just on the mat. Yoga asks you to examine how you want to live your life off the mat.
But maybe you don’t want one road to be your whole practice. Perhaps you’re a long-time hot yoga practitioner. You love the incredible benefits of hot yoga, but lately it feels as if something is missing. Maybe the routine almost feels too easy, or you’ve discovered that you’re operating on autopilot and not checking in with your body, as you should. This could be due to the body’s tendency to adapt over time.
Humans have an amazing ability to find a comfort zone. As we learn the practice, we learn to give over to the heat and the teacher, in the discipline of surrender. Over time, perhaps your mind has made a shift. You are no longer meditating. You’re operating on auto-pilot. You ignore the heat, rather than surrendering to it. You tune out the teacher, instead of reaching for precision.
When this happens, it’s a good time to challenge yourself. Discover where you’ve been taking short cuts. Keep your journey interesting and fresh.
Shake Up Your Yoga Practice by Incorporating Vinyasa Flow
At Hot Yoga TNT, we, of course, love our Bikram yoga. However, we offer a variety of movement options to keep you engaged. One of our newest offerings of moving meditation is Vinyasa Flow. Influenced by ashtanga yoga, vinyasa is a yoga discipline that coordinates each movement with the breath.
In vinyasa, the teacher demonstrates each move as he or she leads the class. The poses, held for a short duration, are performed in a smooth, continuous flow, similar to a choreographed dance. The room temperature is slightly cooler to allow for the faster-paced class.
In hot yoga, the same asanas are executed in the same sequence. Each vinyasa teacher constructs a unique sequence of postures. Some vinyasa classes focus on a specific body part—like opening the hips. Others move through a variation of the strict ashtanga sequence.
You may notice variations in how some of the poses are executed. For instance, the front leg is held straight during triangle pose in a vinyasa class. What’s fascinating about this comparative approach is that you can learn how the precise alignment of a posture leads to specific outcomes.
The term “vinyasa” is sometimes used to refer to a core sequence repeated throughout the class. There are four parts in a vinyasa sequence: downward-facing dog, plank, chaturanga dandasana (a half push-up), and upward-facing dog. This sequence builds strength, keeps you connected to your breath and creates internal heat, which increases flexibility.
Vinyasa yoga encourages modification of each pose to accommodate your body and allow for any injuries or a lack of strength and flexibility. Much of the class includes poses that test arm and wrist strength. This can be challenging for anyone nursing shoulder or wrist injuries. Inform the instructor of any injuries before class, so he or she can guide you through modifications to accommodate the injury.
Why don’t we modify in Bikram yoga? The potential benefit doesn’t rely on depth of expression, but instead on the correct alignment each student achieves with the body they have. Modifications as they are set out in vinyasa and hot flow classes are an interesting investigation into precise alignment.
The faster flow and emphasis on breath can seem overwhelming at first. Don’t be intimidated by this faster-paced yoga discipline. Focus on one aspect at a time. First work on proper technique for each posture. Then concentrate on aligning your breath with each movement. As you continue your vinyasa journey, keep deepening your practice and fine tuning the poses.
Hot yoga is an extremely beneficial practice that offers countless mind, body and spirit benefits. However, you can greatly increase the benefits derived from your hot yoga practice by incorporating other forms of movement. Walking, swimming, biking or dancing can provide variety and a nice change of pace. However, if you love the all-encompassing benefits of yoga, vinyasa flow is a great way to kick-start your routine and avoid the frustration of reaching a fitness plateau.
Vinyasa yoga provides another road to the one intention of a healthy mind, body and spirit. This invigorating practice will challenge you in fresh, exciting ways and help jumpstart the benefits of your current yoga practice. It is an excellent complement to your hot yoga practice. Peruse our class schedule and find a Vinyasa Flow class at a time and location that suits you.