At its most basic, vinyasa yoga, also called vinyasa flow yoga, links breath and movement together in each yoga posture. The word vinyasa is frequently defined as breath synchronized movement. Teachers of vinyasa yoga will instruct students to flow through different yoga postures, known as asanas, focusing on the inhale and exhale with every movement.
There is no set series of asanas that go along with vinyasa yoga, and the asana choices are largely up to the practitioner or teacher. An example of a brief vinyasa flow is the cat-cow asana; performed on one's hands and knees, the yoga practitioner will arch the back for the length of the inhale, and round the back like a cat while exhaling. This is a simple example of the way vinyasa flow yoga links breath and movement.
Vinyasa yoga appears as part of other types of yoga. Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, for example, is a type of yoga practice developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and involves completing a predetermined series of asanas each time it is practiced. There are six different series to follow, designed for yoga practitioners of differing ability levels. Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, also makes use of vinyasa flow, as well as power yoga.
One of the most well-known examples of vinyasa yoga, found in almost every yoga class, is the sun salutation sequence. Though a yoga teacher may incorporate varying yoga postures into the sun salutation sequence, the yoga practitioner will inhale or exhale every time the posture changes. This linking of breath and movement is believed to restore balance to the body, as well as bring a greater awareness to the yoga practice and to the way the body feels.
Those who have tried a simple yoga class before, and may have found it unappealing, might find it useful to check out a vinyasa yoga class instead. Because these classes are more than just one stretching pose after another, they tend to have a bit of a faster pace. A faster pace is particularly present in Ashtanga yoga or power yoga classes, and these are quite challenging as well. Vinyasa yoga also encourages practitioners to move in a more natural progression from one yoga posture to another, which helps warm the muscles over the entire body.
It is not necessary to join a class to practice this style of vinyasa yoga. Because there are no particular asanas that need to be followed, many people with a working knowledge of yoga can develop their own programs. In addition, there are many instructional videos available that detail various yoga postures, and give examples of yoga series.