Vinyasa yoga teaches us to cultivate an awareness that links each action to the next—on the mat and in our lives. Applying vinyasa in your yoga practice and daily life has many parallels to sailing a boat. Like sailing, moving through life demands a synchronization with natural forces that requires skill and intuition, the ability to set a course yet change with the wind and currents. If you want to sail, you have to know how to assess the conditions of the weather—blustery, calm, choppy—which constantly fluctuate, as do our physical, emotional, and spiritual states.
The teachings of yoga include a view called parinamavada, the idea that constant change is an inherent part of life. Therefore, to proceed skillfully with any action, we must first assess where we are starting from today; we cannot assume we are quite the same person we were yesterday. We are all prone to ignoring the changing conditions of our body-mind; we often distort the reality of who we are based on who we think that we should be. This can show up on the yoga mat in any number of inappropriate choices: engaging in a heating, rigorous practice when we're agitated or fatigued; doing a restorative practice when we're stagnant; going to an advanced yoga class when a beginning class better suits our experience and skills. In order to avoid such unbeneficial actions, we need to start out with an accurate assessment of our current state.