My first yoga class changed all that, even though it wasn’t Viniyoga; it was Iyengar-influenced Hatha yoga. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry. Neither do most of the people down-dogging next to you. Suffice it to say that Hatha is an umbrella term for the physical practice of yoga, and Iyengar is a specific style, focused on holding poses with exact alignment.
I liked my first yoga class. A lot. In fact, I liked it so much that I was afraid if my yoga teacher knew how much it was hurting me, she might not let me attend anymore. She knew of my injuries, but even though she was a well known and very experienced yoga teacher (she even co-authored a yoga book!) she didn’t know how to adapt yoga for my body. But that didn’t matter to me. All that mattered was the incredible peace of mind I received from practicing.
Then that teacher went on a month’s vacation.
Determined to keep up my practice, I went to a number of studios in the Seattle area and tried a variety of styles. Luckily for me, one of those styles was Viniyoga. I didn’t know why at the time, but for the first time, I left a yoga class feeling not only mentally, but also physically, better. Over time, I continued to experiment, but I kept coming back to Viniyoga. And then one day I knew: I was destined to teach this wonderful lineage.
Flash-forward 13 years, and I can now explain what makes this style so unique. My teacher calls it The Four Key Differentiators of Viniyoga:
- Linkage of Breath and Movement: Viniyoga links movement with the breath, which makes each movement more powerful, mindful, and structurally integrated than non-breath-centered movement.
- Use of Movement and Stay: Viniyoga students move in and out of poses before staying in them. Movement systematically prepares the body to hold a pose by warming the muscle groups that will be taxed in that pose. Movement also helps reprogram habitual movement patterns, so students move more functionally, even in non-yoga activities.
- Adaptation: Viniyoga adapts poses to the practitioner, rather than assuming there is one “right” way to do a pose. The goal is to achieve the function of a pose, instead of its form.
- Sequencing: Viniyoga teachers carefully design classes so that each pose prepares for or erases strain from the poses before and after it.
More than anything else, that’s why I love Viniyoga.
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber's author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and wherever books are sold.