Modern vinyasa yoga, born of the ashtanga yoga lineage, has taken on a very full life of its own. Arguably the most popular style of practice, vinyasa (or “flow”) classes are a sweaty mixture of physical postures, creative sequences, mesmerizing playlists, and lots of bodies. More people are doing yoga than ever before, and that’s a good thing. However, modern vinyasa yoga has exploded and evolved so fast that perhaps the practice has fallen a little off track.
The Current State of Vinyasa Yoga
As a whole modern yoga isn’t very old. We are just now reaching a maturity where enough people have practiced for enough years that we are beginning to understand the long-term wear and tear it potentially places on the body. More teachers and long-time practitioners are speaking up about their pain and injuries. More studies are being conducted on yoga-related injuries. And new information is being released all of the time. Yoga in the west is at a critical point where we are now beginning to understand what we’ve been doing in our bodies, and there are a lot of conversations taking place in the yoga community about the safety and efficacy of the poses, as well as the way we practice.
I’ve been teaching yoga for over a decade. And after years of chronic pain, I, myself, am in a period of deep questioning, investigating, and studying with various teachers who are addressing issues like hypermobility and functional movement in the practice of asana. I’ve found myself eliminating certain poses and movements from my classes, demanding less precise alignment from my students, and changing my focus from apex poses to the more interoceptive aspects of the practice.
As a teacher, all of the new information, discussions, and discoveries can be confusing (even overwhelming), but everyone I spoke with agreed that modern vinyasa yoga isn’t in a dire state. We don’t have to vilify one pose or movement—or style of yoga for that matter. But we can’t ignore the fact that there are more injuries in yoga today than there were 20 years ago. We need to reevaluate what, how often, and why we’re teaching what we’re teaching—and potentially even rethink our approach to the practice altogether. The following 7 questions can get us started.
7 Questions for Vinyasa Yoga Teachers
These are just a few of topics being discussed that we, as teachers, need to start thinking more critically about. Ultimately, I will leave you with one key question we must keep asking ourselves: How can I better serve the students in my yoga classes?