Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa Yoga is a style of yoga characterized by connecting individual yoga poses (asanas) with deep breathing (Ujjayi breath) so that you move from one pose to the next seamlessly, matching deep inhales and exhales to the movements. Vinyasa Yoga is also referred to as Flow Yoga or Vinyasa Flow. The classes are often rhythmical and quick-paced. The focus and most important aspect is the rhythm of the breath.

Ujjayi Breath

Vinyasa Yoga uses Ujjayi breath which is synced to the movements. Ujjayi breath, aka Victorious breath or Ocean Breath, is a technique that allows you to calm your mind by focusing on your breath. It is performed with a closed mouth, with the breath-centered in the back of the mouth, at the top of the throat. The throat is constricted so that the breath makes a rushing noise. Ujjayi breath is the core of Vinyasa Yoga and many would say it is the most important aspect of this style of yoga. There are many different types & styles of yoga to explore, Vinyasa Yoga is just one, and then there are several different Vinyasa Yoga styles, like Power and Rocket. 

Rudy Mettia explains Ujjayi breath as his student, Ryan demonstrates.

How did Vinyasa Yoga develop?

One of the main Vinyasa Yoga origins was the Ashtanga lineage. The Ashtanga school is based on the teachings of Sri Krishnamacharya, who is considered to be the grandfather of modern yoga. In 1916 he spent 7.5 years studying with his guru, Sri Ramamohan Brahmachari in the Himalayas. During this time he studied the Ashtanga (Raja) Yoga system, also known as the Eight Limbs of Yoga. In 1933 Krishnamacharya began teaching yoga in Mysore, India, which drew students from India and the West, ultimately spreading the practice to the West.

Students of Sri Krishnamacharya

His best-known students went on to become masters themselves and include Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi, BKS Iyengar, and TKV Desikachar. Influenced by these masters, various Vinyasa Yoga styles have developed from one source. Pattabhi Jois taught yoga as moving meditation. He believed that the moments between each asana are as important as the postures themselves and the entire practice should be held in deep concentration. Rather than getting into a pose and then breathing, in Vinyasa, we keep the deep breathing consistent throughout all movements, during the poses, and while moving between the poses. 

Poses Common to Vinyasa Yoga

Many Vinyasa classes use the basic structure of the Ashtanga Primary Series, starting with Surya Namaskar A and B (also commonly referred to as Sun Salutation A and B) but then veer off to different sequences thereafter. Vinyasa does not follow a fixed series of poses, each class is different. Often classes will be designed to work with a particular area of the body and will often work toward a focus pose. These two sequences contain many of the best yoga poses for beginners. Learn these first and you’ll be well on your way.

The Surya Namaskar A (aka Sun Salutation A) sequence is:

  1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose) 
  2. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute) 
  3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) 
  4. Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)  
  5. Plank Pose
  6. Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) 
  7. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose) 
  8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

The Surya Namaskar B (aka Sun Salutation B) sequence is:

  1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
  2. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
  3. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
  4. Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana)
  5. Four Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
  6. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
  7. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  8. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
  9. Four Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
  10. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
  11. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  12. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) – other side
  13. Four Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) 
  14. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
  15. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) 
  16. Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana) 
  17. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
  18. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
  19. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

How to start a Vinyasa Yoga Practice

Creating a new habit is exciting, but can also be daunting. Learning something new can be filled with the ‘will I be able to do it?’ jitters. Remember, the benefits of yoga are worth it! Incorporating a few ideas into your new practice will give you the confidence to start and stay with it. 

1) Prepare

Decide when, where, and what ahead of time. Set time aside every day for your yoga practice. Schedule it into your day ahead of time. Practicing at the same time of day is a helpful method to create consistency. Create a dedicated space where you will practice. Your practice space only needs to be as big as your mat. Should you have more space, decorate it and create your own personal chill vibe! But it is not necessary. A yoga block can be very helpful, and you may be interested in other yoga props. Choose your class ahead of time so when you come to your mat you aren’t spending your valuable time scrolling through class options.

2) Keep the Mind Open

Remember, we are all beginners at times! Learning something new requires…wait for it – learning. We value the ‘beginner’s mind’ because it is open and ready to receive. Cultivate your curiosity! And remember it is called yoga practice for a reason. Each day will be different, your energy and strength levels will be different, your outlook will be different, and your practice will be different. Don’t waste time and energy focusing on what you can’t (yet) do. 

3) Jump In

Get comfortable with some basic beginner yoga poses and then try a level 1 class from one of the many Vinyasa Yoga teachers at

Now that you’ve got the yoga buzz – keep it going. Vinyasa yoga benefits are endless. No one ever regretted practicing yoga. 

Read on for more ideas on starting a yoga practice.

Write Your Comment

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.