You know you love your flow class, but did you ever think about WHY it feels so good? Below, Eddie Modestini, a longtime student of K. Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar who will lead Yoga Journal’s upcoming online course, Vinyasa 101: The Fundamentals of Flow, explains how vinyasa yoga benefits your body, mind, and spirit. (Sign up for this essential guide to vinyasa yoga HERE.)
1. Vinyasa yoga addresses the stiff culture we live in.
The Western world has become a seated society, which is why vinyasa yoga is so important: its orientation is breath and movement, and research shows that increased movement in a seated society is absolutely essential for health. Vinyasa yoga gets us moving.
2. Vinyasa yoga trains the mind.
With a seated society comes a toxic mind: because our bodies are still, our minds are racing. Vinyasa yoga stills the mind because it has so many focal points that train the mind: the breath, movements, bandhas, postures, and sequences. We’re really focusing on the breath at first, and then, as the mind gains the ability to concentrate, we are able to focus on many things at once. Step by step we expand the mind with the practice. Without proper training, the mind jumps all over the place, distracting us from working on the parts of our beings that will actually help us evolve. Vinyasa yoga stills the mind, giving it the ability to process what the practice brings up to the surface — the joyful stuff and sometimes the uncomfortable stuff as well.
3. Vinyasa yoga teaches us how to care for ourselves.
Vinyasa yoga teaches us how to be loving toward ourselves. How to be compassionate to ourselves, because human beings have self-defeating and self-limiting tendencies. We are our own worst critics. Practicing vinaysa yoga brings the content of our beings to the surface so we can see it. Inside the muscles, we hold the memories of every emotion we’ve ever experienced: sadness, fear, anger, etc. Through the asanas, we can tap into these memories and process our pasts. It’s the asanas that release the emotions out of the body. Being a yogi really means engaging in the process of healing: mentally, emotionally, and physically. Vinyasa yoga helps us learn how to accept all the parts of ourselves that aren’t as evolved as we might like them to be.
Eddie Modestini is the co-director and co-owner of Maya Yoga Studio in Maui. Sign up here for Modestini's upcoming Vinyasa 101 course, which will cover the anatomy of the spine, how to adapt asana for various body types, and much more.