VINIYOGA IS FOR EVERY BODY & ANY BODY!
Viniyoga is unique among approaches to yoga. It is translated as adaptive yoga. As you learn how to use the tools of Viniyoga wisely, you are able to start your practice from where you are each day and progress in the direction that has meaning for you. If you are interested in physical wellbeing, Viniyoga helps you achieve greater flexibility, relief of common aches and pains, and to develop your potential for greater challenges. If you want to balance your emotions or steady your mind, Viniyoga has tools that help you meet your goal.
There are five features that distinguish Viniyoga practices:
1) The specific emphasis of the breath: the downward flow of the inhalation, the upward flow of the exhalation.
Structurally, this emphasizes extension of the spine on inhalation, countering negative effects of gravity. On exhalation it reinforces core strength, as the abdominal muscles are engaged and drawn in and toward the spine. Esoterically it refers to bringing prana, or life energy, into the body and reducing apana – sluggishness and impurities from the abdominal area. Imagine that with each breath you are revitalizing your system, and in particular the abdominal area. In a sense that is what the ancient yogis had in mind when they stressed the importance of conscious breathing.
2) The use of adaptations.
Krishnamacharya taught that our life cycle is like the phases of the day, moving from dawn, or the childhood years, through midday or mid-life, when we bear more responsibilities and have to learn to deal with them effectively so as not to damage our health. The phase of sunset reflects the time of ripeness and maturity. In each phase,
our yoga practice should reflect what is really important. In childhood, through asana we develop our body’s potential for movement. In mid-life, respecting the body’s changes, we emphasize maintaining healthy function as well as integrating pranayama (breathing exercises). The breath is an important tool for steadiness of mind and balance of the nervous system. In older years, reflection, meditation and prayer add a depth to personal practice that honors the wisdom gained over a lifetime.
3) The value of sequencing.
Some movements are challenging to perform. It is appropriate to prepare the body for unusual poses and then compensate well. By carefully sequencing asana practice (poses) as well as other yogic practices, we reduce the chances of creating unnecessary stress to the body and optimize the benefits. To develop a challenging asana (pose) we start by warming up the areas that will be challenged, then carefully return back to a neutral, balanced position, to relieve any stress. In a similar way we prepare by sequencing for more challenging practices of breathing, meditation and so on.
4) The key of clear intention.
Any practice reflects an intention. The clearer the intention, the better chance of achieving it. Viniyoga emphasizes the importance of following an intention and choosing the elements that will best serve the purpose. For example, if the intention is to strengthen the core, then strong poses that work the large muscles of the body and focus on abdominal and back strength are appropriate. If someone has a stiff neck, addressing the neck with gentle movements that increase circulation would be appropriate. The intention depends on the needs and interests of the person(s) practicing.
5) Dynamic movement and static holding
The use of repetition warms up the ody and engages neuromuscular repatterning.
Through repetition of movement we begin to observe habitual patterns which create stress rather than contribute to freedom of movement and maintain healthy function. When addressing chronic aches and pains, for example, repetition can be useful to increase circulation to the area and gradually stretch and strengthen. Static holding deepens the effect of he pose. When the body is in general good health and adequately prepared, holding pose directs energy into specific areas of the body, revitalizing the body from within.
According to the teachings of Viniyoga, yoga is meant to be adapted to meet your needs starting wherever you are in your life.