When I first started practicing yoga, didn't really know what "style" of yoga I was practicing so I don't blame the new students that come to me saying that have done yoga, but not really sure what kind of yoga. There are so many and even myself haven't experience all of them so I'm just going to write about what I've experienced and usually teach.
The word “vinyasa” can be translated as “arranging something in a special way,” like yoga poses for example. In vinyasa yoga classes, students coordinate movement with breath to flow from one pose to the next. Ashtanga, Baptiste Yoga, Jivamukti, Power Yoga, Rocket Yoga and Prana Flow could all be considered vinyasa yoga.
The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a style of yoga brought by K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century which is often promoted as a modern-day form of classical Indian yoga. Ashtanga means eight limbs or branches, of which asana or posture is merely one branch, breath or pranayama is another.
Linking the breath with the movement, the series starts with a warm up, the sun salutations Surya A and Surya B followed by the standing sequence, seated sequence and the closing sequence.
My foundation is based on the Ashtanga and I still remember the magical 1st class of my 200 hours teacher training. It was the 1st full Ashtanga class I experienced with 3 hours length of asana, meditation and pranayama. I don't really teach traditional Ashtanga theses days. Some postures I can't really handle because of my bad knees so I modify. The practice I love the most is actually Rocket Yoga and was actually the practice I started on my early days without even knowing.
Rocket is an energising routine created by Larry Schultz, based on a modification of the traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and it’s perfect to start the day with. Larry was Pattabhi Jois's student, known has the bad boy of Ashtanga because he literally broke the rules. In Ashtanga you move to the nest posture until you master where you are. Larry simply started mixing postures from 2nd series with 1st series, creating his routines allowing modifications. It’s called the “Rocket” because “it get´s you there faster”. Is designed to wake up the nervous system, to renew vitality and energy, and is appropriate for all levels of students with plenty of ways to modify the classical poses.
I didn't have the pleasure to train with Larry, but my teachers Dulce and Jamie from The Yoga People passed his legacy. I started practicing in London and my top teachers Marcus Veda and Lolo Lam. They are a truly inspiration for me.
Based on the 4 basic elements - Fire, Water, Earth and Air - Mandala Vinyasa connects each element with a specific area of the body, integrating the spiral patterns that nature uses and exploring circular movements with our bodies, moving 360º around the mat. So instead of facing the front of the mat on our sun salutations, we are actually moving around. On a physical level, we flow and move with the breath, working on that particular target area.
The interesting aspect is that we can really synchronise ourselves with nature through the lens of the elements, as accordingly with the Mayan calendar, each day is related with an element.
Yin Yoga in other hand is slow-paced style of yoga with poses that are held for longer periods of time with a rebound, a mini Savasana between postures. Yin yoga poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues, tendons, fascia and ligaments, with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improve flexibility. Is a more meditative approach of yoga, it’s about finding stillness, cultivating awareness and is a great complement to more active forms of yoga and exercise. Paul Grilley, one of the founders of Yin Yoga says the Yin happens on the rebound, when the stress applied through the posture is released and new energy, the chi or prana starts flowing again.
Yin Yoga was a game changing for me. I've learned more about anatomy and actually the tradicional alignment don't work for everybody. One size doesn't fit all because we have different bones structures. Yoga was taught in the early days to young skinny Indian boys. Their bone structure are totally different from an European. Even man bones structure are different from women. I know now that I won't be able to seat in lotus, my hips are just not designed for that! Am I a fake yogi because I don't do lotus?
Yin also taught me to really tune in, to listen to my body. Is not restorative yoga where you sit there doing nothing. The challenge is there, sit with the discomfort, breath and to keep riding the edge of discomfort.
Yin is truly magical and the perfect practice to balance a busy, yang life.
What do I teach more?
Modified Rocket, Yin Yoga and Mandala Vinyasa are the practices I teach and practice.
As Larry Schultz used to say: "Practice what you teach and teach what you practice".
Come to practice with me in Portugal joining my next retreat or just by visiting Odeceixe :)