I threw myself into a fast-paced, dynamic style of yoga when I started practising Vinyasa yoga, initially at home from my laptop and on my little mat in my room, and then later on in group classes. Vinyasa yoga opened me to a whole new world of ‘exercise’ as I became addicted to the sweat, intensity, physical benefits and transformation, and the high that I was left with as I left the class, one that lasted all day. It took me a little while to realise that the benefits transcended the physical, and I started to appreciate that yoga gave me increased mental clarity, a certain calmness, and a self-awareness that I had not had before. I was becoming a student of myself, and starting to understand my body and mind, and all the little details about myself that I hadn’t even been aware of before.
I loved the ever-changing themes of vinyasa yoga and found myself picking a class based on how I was feeling that week. If I was stressed and tired, I gravitated towards a more contemplative, soothing vinyasa class with a heart/mind focus. If I felt like I needed a challenge, I’d brave the handstand or arm balance themed classes, and come out smiling with the joy of knowing I’d challenged myself, even though I’d fallen flat on my face several times.
In short, vinyasa yoga allows you the freedom of learning something new each week, of challenging yourself physically with a fast-paced, intense class, only to find out that a softer, more introspective and explorative class is just as challenging mentally, with my impatient mind constantly wanting to wander or move on to the next pose. The challenge definitely comes with finding a stillness in the pose, and staying there: letting yourself reach your highest potential within the pose before coming out of it. As the quote goes, “The pose begins when you want to leave it.”
One of the joys of teaching vinyasa yoga is seeing beginners become more aware and appreciative of their bodies. Every student’s body is completely different: everyone comes from a different lifestyle, exercise routine or lack-of, and biology. Each class that I teach, I notice students becoming more accepting of their bodily limits, and using props to help them ease into the pose, to help them soften while maintaining safe alignment.
With a regular vinyasa practice, students develop a better relationship with their body, before gaining an greater understanding of the habits and repetitive tendencies of their mind, which can have a positive effect on their lives as a whole.