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What is So Great About Vinyasa Yoga?

Okay, so you’re on a yoga mat, get into a pose, and hold it for a few moments. You may feel bored, too stressed, or not strong enough to stay in one position long. What happens next? You either quit your yoga sessions altogether or pour more effort into holding each asana. 

If this has ever happened to you, you’re not alone. Different yoga styles are not necessarily suitable for everyone. 

Maybe you’re hoping to practice a few poses together, smoothly –  without sticking to one pose only. Your wish is about to come to life. Vinyasa yoga poses are performed quickly and in a formed sequence. You alter the pose with each breath instead of focusing on one pose at a time with rest in between. 

Bouncing between poses is much more engaging and beneficial. Still, you as a newbie might find it challenging, especially if you’ve never practiced any sports before. 

Yet, what is so great about Vinyasa yoga? The answer is simple – a lot, as this activity perfectly fits all the fitness levels and enhances your well-being. So, why wait? Check out this article to unravel all the benefits of Vinyasa yoga, the top-notch poses, and how it compares to Ashtanga and Hatha yoga styles. 

What is Vinyasa yoga?

It’s okay if you’re perplexed with the different Types of Yoga. Take a breath, everything is easier than it seems. Let’s start with the term itself.

Vinyasa yoga is a physical yoga practice where you perform a sequence of certain asanas (poses) at a time. You simply move from one pose into the next one. There’s a flow to a Vinyasa yoga session, though the specific poses and the speed of the flow vary from your instructor.

Okay, you’re now familiar with the term but what are the benefits of Vinyasa yoga? I want to highlight the key 4 advantages of Vinyasa yoga which you might reap after a couple of sessions:

  • You promote your endurance and strength
  • You lower your anxiety and depression
  • You improve your blood sugar levels as well as cholesterol levels
  • You don’t only practice the Vinyasa yoga sequence but also engage in so-called cardio

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You promote your endurance and strength

Altering challenging poses in quick succession helps you build muscle strength while improving your fitness. As previously stated, the Vinyasa yoga sequence is no easy feat but it’s great as it prepares you for intense sports activities, whether working out at the gym or from running. 

You lower your anxiety and depression

There is a study where twenty healthy college students aged 18 years and older attended a Vinyasa yoga class at a local studio twice a week for 8 weeks. The results demonstrate a positive effect of Vinyasa yoga on mood and decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety (1).

You improve your blood sugar levels as well as cholesterol levels

Other research shows positive outcomes of Vinyasa yoga sessions on blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and enhanced mood. Practicing Vinyasa yoga aids in lowering blood sugar and cholesterol (4).

You don’t only practice the Vinyasa yoga sequence but engage in so-called cardio

According to one study in 2013, the fast-paced movements of Vinyasa yoga make it an ideal light-intensity cardio activity (3). 

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Is Vinyasa yoga okay for beginners?

Yes and no. A newbie can practice Vinyasa yoga. But remember this: all Vinyasa sequences are beginner-friendly. True, you might face difficulties altering poses in fast-paced motions. That said, it’s no biggie because you can find beginner-welcoming Vinyasa yoga studios where certified instructors will help you navigate your asanas smoothly and gently. 

To find a suitable class, search for the “slow flow” sessions. 

Slow-flow classes are great for newbies because you perform them at a gentler pace which allows you to build body awareness and learn poses before adding speed. 

Some studios have a specific rating system where five stars mean the most challenging class and one star is the easiest. 

Here are three additional tips to help you successful practice a Vinyasa yoga session: 

  1. Breathable comfy clothing. There is no special uniform to wear for Vinyasa classes. However, you should look for garments that are both breathable and secure. The fabric itself must be moisture-wicking and breathable so you do not feel uncomfortable when you are sweating. A big part of Vinyasa is breathing, and if your clothes are  too tight or restrictive you may not be able to inhale and exhale at full capacity. 
  2. Listening to your body. Keeping up the pace with others is normal. But your real priority is in paying attention to what feels good. Don’t strive to overshadow others with your perfect postures through pain. If the class flows too quickly and your body tells you to drop into pigeon pose, do as your body tells you. 
  3. Asking questions. You have the right to ask questions. Surely, it’s better to do it after the class privately. If you feel puzzled or confused by some sequence, dare to ask for more slow-paced versions or other beginner-friendly options. 
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If you’re a beginner who’s not ready to go to the studio and desires to hop in Vinyasa yoga poses at home, you should try out these 4 beginner asanas: 

Plank pose

How to perform: 

  • Hop in a plank position. If the plank is too much for you, you can get on your knees to the floor.
  • Keep your hips in line and shoulders stacked over your wrists. 
  • Lengthen forward through the crown of your head and out through your heels.
  • Hold in plank pose for 3-5 breaths and then lower the body down to rest.
  • Repeat the pose when you are ready.

Lower to Knees, Chest, and Chin

How to perform:

  • Start in a push up position, or high plank position.
  • Exhale to lower your knees, chin, and chest to your mat.
  • Keep your butt high in the air and ensure your elbows are straight back along your sides.
  • Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths and then lower the body down to rest.

Cobra pose

How to perform:

  • Start in a high push up position and begin to lower your body down to the floor
  • Inhale and slide gently to a low Cobra Pose.
  • After lowering your hips to the floor, keep your chest forward and lift off the ground.​
  • Be sure that this lift comes from the strength of your back, not pushing down into your hands.
  • Don’t impose too much weight on your hands while you anchor your pelvis and the tops of your feet to the mat.
  • Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths and then lower the body down to rest.

Read more: Yoga for Moms Who Need a Break: A Simple Guide

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Chair pose

How to perform: 

  • Start in a tall standing position with your feet at a hip-width distance. 
  • Bend by sending the hips back and bending your knees slightly to get into the seated position. 
  • Stretch the back of your neck as you look four feet in front of you to the ground. 
  • Raise your hands to the sky, keeping the ribs knitted together.
  • Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths and then raise back up the starting position.

Perform this sequence at a comfortable pace, instead of exasperating yourself with a fast unbreathable pace. 

Is Vinyasa yoga easy or hard?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors: your fitness level, the asanas you’re practicing, and the pace. 

Still, Vinyasa yoga can seem hard for beginners, but as you get the hang of the Vinyasa poses, it gets easier for you to perform the yoga sequences. 

We all need some time to adjust to physical activity. It applies not only to Vinyasa yoga classes, but to other types of yoga, as well as bodyweight exercises or versatile sports activities. 

As long as you stick to your yoga regime gradually, you’re getting enough power to practice much more challenging poses. 

To sum up, if you’re thinking of starting a Vinyasa journey, pick the right flow and pace for your abilities. Avoid performing very challenging poses at the beginning – it may get too difficult to perform them, which builds up the perspective that it will always be that hard. 

It’s not that hard in reality. All you need is enough practice and gradual modifications. 

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What are the 3 poses in Vinyasa?

I can’t stress enough that there are more than 3 effective Vinyasa poses. Yet, these three poses are widely practiced and may be modified to beginner-friendly versions. 

  1. Chaturanga
  2. Upward Facing Dog
  3. Chair pose

Chaturanga

Instructions: 

  • Start in a high push up position.
  • Lower the body halfway to the floor until you bend your elbows to 90 degree
  • Imagine you’re doing a tricep push-up with your elbows held close in toward your sides.

Beginner modification: Place your knees on the mat.

Upward Facing Dog

Instructions: 

  • Lie facedown on the mat extending legs behind your body. 
  • Place your palms on the mat next to your shoulders. 
  • Extend your arms straight to lift your upper body, gently arch your back, and lift your thighs and shins off of the floor.
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Beginners’ modification: Keep your hips, thighs, and shins on the floor

Downward Facing Dog

Instructions: 

  • Start by lying on the floor with your head and stomach facing the floor.
  • Then come through all fours or get in a Child’s Pose to create a transition, if you want to. 
  • Next come onto all fours, knees and hands.
  • Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart.
  • Push your body up creating an upside down V shape.
  • Try pressing your heels down onto the floor and continue to maintain an upside down V shape with the body.
  • Keep your spine long throughout the movement. 

Beginners’ modification: Bend your knees. 

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Is Hatha yoga harder than Vinyasa?

Hatha yoga is easier than Vinyasa. In the battle between Vinyasa yoga vs Hatha yoga, there are no losers as both of these yoga styles provide benefits. The difference between them lies in their intensity. 

Unlike Vinyasa yoga, Hatha sequences focus on the breath and controlled movements. Plus, you perform each pose at a much slower pace. If you’re aspiring to become more flexible, Hatha yoga can help, especially in the spine and hamstrings (2). 

Hatha yoga is perfect for beginners who have a hard time switching between poses at a faster pace. Since it’s more challenging and requires more power and stamina, Hatha practice is rather “relaxing”. Starting your morning routine with Hatha yoga is an awesome choice as this yoga style promotes stiffness in your body and prepares you for your future performances. 

If you’re looking to dig deeper into Hatha and Vinyasa yoga styles, check out the Hatha Yoga Vs Vinyasa article

Is Ashtanga yoga harder that Vinyasa?

When it comes to Vinyasa yoga vs Ashtanga, you as a beginner or even advanced yoga practitioner should be aware that Ashtanga is tough. 

Overall, Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga classes are dynamic yoga styles that involve flowing movements, which makes them look similar. Yet, there are some critical differences between the two:

  1. Structure: During Ashtanga yoga you perform a sequence of postures in the same line every time. During Vinyasa yoga, you add more flexibility to the sequencing.
  2. Pace: You practice Ashtanga yoga faster than Vinyasa yoga. In Ashtanga, you hold each posture for five breaths, and there is little to no rest between asanas. The pace in Vinyasa yoga can be slower or faster depending on the teacher and class.
  3. Emphasis on alignment: You as an Ashtanga practitioner should work through the same sequence before upgrading to the next level. In Vinyasa yoga there may be more room for personal exploration and creativity.
  4. Breath: Both Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga involve synchronized breath with movement. Yet, Ashtanga has specific breathing techniques you learn throughout the practice. 
  5. Intensity: Ashtanga yoga is more intense due to the fast-paced sequencing of the same postures. Vinyasa yoga can also be demanding but may be modified for beginners and those who prefer a slower pace.
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To sum up, Ashtanga yoga is more structured and rigorous, while Vinyasa yoga is adaptable and creative.

Read more: Somatic Yoga: A Journey to Self Discovery

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FAQs

  • Is Vinyasa harder than Hatha?

Yes, Vinyasa yoga may be more challenging than Hatha yoga, due to a faster switch between poses. Hatha yoga is ideal for beginners who want to hold on to poses in a relaxed manner instead of changing them in the sequence via fast-paced movements. 

  • What is the difference between Vinyasa Yoga and regular yoga?

You practice regular yoga at a slow pace focusing on your breathing, stretching, and controlled movements. During Vinyasa classes, you connect your breath to your movements performing a set of poses at a faster pace. 

  • Which yoga is best for beginners?

Hands down, Hatha yoga is ideal for beginners. This yoga style doesn’t require switching poses at a quick pace and offers great poses for newbies. 

  • Is Vinyasa harder than power yoga?

No, Vinyasa yoga is not harder than power yoga. On the contrary, power yoga has a physical focus working on stamina, strength, endurance, and flexibility. It’s fast-paced enough, which makes it seem like a workout activity. 

The Bottom Line

What is so great about Vinyasa yoga?

Congrats, you know the answer to this question. Let’s wrap it all up to consolidate the knowledge. 

Vinyasa yoga is a physical yoga practice where you perform a sequence of certain asanas (poses) at a time. It may promote your endurance and strength, lower your anxiety and depression, and improve your blood sugar levels as well as cholesterol levels. Also Vinyasa yoga has some similarities to light cardio

This yoga style may be modified for beginners. In addition, there are sequences consisting of simple asanas that you can perform at home or in the studio. Always remember to practice yoga in a breathable garment as breathing plays a crucial role in any physical activity. 

Listen to your body as you dive into the pose – if it seems too difficult, avoid the asana and switch to a less challenging pose. 

The key 3 poses in Vinyasa are: downward facing dog, upward-facing dog, and chaturanga. Vinyasa is a tad harder than Hatha, but easier than the Ashtanga yoga style. If you’re a beginner, begin with Hatha yoga under the supervision of a certified instructor and gradually shift to Vinyasa and Ashtanga sessions. 

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES

  1. Acute and Cumulative Effects of Vinyasa Yoga on Affect and Stress among College Students Participating in an Eight-week Yoga Program: A Pilot Study (2014, allenpress.com)
  2. Difference Between Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga (2023, webmd.com)
  3. Heart Rate Response to Vinyasa Yoga in Healthy Adults (2013, longdom.org)
  4. The acute effects of Vinyasa flow yoga on vascular function, lipid and glucose concentrations, and mood (2021, sciencedirect.com)