In the Yoga Sutras of Pantajali, Sutra 1.2 defines yoga as “the calming of the fluctuations of the mind.” So, how do we practice this in a Vinyasa Flow class? There are many answers to this question, but let’s explore the union of breath and body while in continuous movement, as is the characteristic of Vinyasa Flow.
Through a consciously balanced steady breath, particularly with the soft whispering sound of Ujayi Pranayama, or victorious breath, you can steady the mind’s focus on the sound and its soothing vibration and tune into an inner calm or sensation of stillness while moving the body from pose to pose. Specifically, during the physically warming Surya Namaskars, or Sun Salutations, the repetitive motions linked to sustained rhythmic breath create a feeling of peacefulness and ease, even while exerting effort in some potentially challenging movements and postures.
This practice of cultivating tranquility from the inside out, through balancing effort and ease, or sthira and sukha in Sanskrit, is an empowering practice that can be transferred to daily life within stress-inducing situations, like driving in traffic or conversing in an escalating argument. As yoga is always a practice, progress may vary with what you’re currently working with—physically or psychologically—in creating this state of equanimity through conscious breath and conscious balance of exertion. However, as with any new skill, diligent consistent practice opens the gateway for mastery.
Practice Sun Salutations A, B and C on our video tutorial here.
Take a look at Sun Salutation A (photo from Mark Stephen’s book, Yoga Sequencing), which are often repeated in various versions in a flow class:
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