Yoga, that ancient 5000 year-old science-of-the-mind, first set-down in written form some 2500 years ago, by the great Sage Patanjali, is now a staple part of many Brits lives. The many benefits are well-known and well documented and an actual embodied, lived experience to the 500,000 Brits who practice it regularly and at least some-what known, to the 3 million who’ve tried it. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about and why it’s been around for so long, here are just 5 of the key benefits of Vinyasa-flow yoga, one of the most popular styles around at the moment:
- It’s fun and enjoyable which encourages consistency
For yoga to ‘work’ for us and provide benefits, it’s a good idea to at least try to do it regularly, and a vinyasa-flow class helps to encourage regular, consistent participation because each class is uniquely different and offers variety. You’ll very rarely (if ever!) get bored, stuck in the same old yoga pose week after week with your hamstrings or your mind or back screaming at you to get out whilst being encouraged by a breathy, floaty yoga teacher to stay a bit longer and breath through it! You’ll be too busy moving from one yoga pose to the next, into creative and intelligently designed sequences that suit our noisy, crammed, tech over-stimulated, 21st century minds to a tee. Thus eliminating boredom and connecting you to a fun and enjoyable healthy activity that you’ll want to return to again and again, which is where the real magic happens – in being consistent. Complete beginners may want to try a beginner’s course or Hatha yoga class first to learn the basics before a trying Vinyasa class.
2. It relieves stress and anxiety and can boost your mood
It very much depends on how it’s taught but Vinyasa flow is generally one of the more dynamic styles of yoga. By moving your body and breathing in flowing rhythmic movements linked to your inhale and exhale breath, you’re elevating your heart-rate which causes the negative stress-hormone cortisol to be reduced and the positive happy feel-good endorphins like dopamine and serotonin to be increased thereby relieving stress and boosting your mood. If you add awareness to the mix, as in focussing your mind on your inhale and exhale-breath, or the sensations in your body, as you move and hold the postures, rather than letting your mind wander to your thoughts, the positive effects are multiplied ten-fold. Yoga also causes the release of GABA or Gamma-Aminobutyric acid, which is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in our central nervous system. It’s principal role is reducing neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system, which basically means your anxiety will be reduced.
3. It feels darn good
Moving and stretching feels good! With all of that sitting and forward bending that we do, having a practice that encourages movement feels darn good! There are an estimated 72,000 nerve channels or nardis in the human-body, which allow the prana or life-force energy to flow through you, and they don’t half get jammed-up with all of that sitting that we do! Vinyasa-flow is a breath-led practice which means that the intelligently designed sequences of postures are linked to the inhale and exhale-breath encouraging those blocked-nerve channels to open and increasing our vital life-force energy, which feels mighty fine. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself and see!
4. Cardio, strength, endurance, balance and flexibility workout in one
Vinyasa flow tends to elevate the heartrate, offering a mild to moderate cardio work-out whilst you stretch-out tight muscles and strengthen weak-ones. There are often balance postures in vinyasa flow sequences and classes vary in duration but can be 1.5 hours in length, thereby training our bodies for endurance. And so, it offers you the opportunity for a cardio, strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance workout all in one go! As mentioned earlier, if you add awareness to the practice, it also becomes a movement meditation, calming noisy, agitated minds and allowing you to connect to those deeper emotions of joy, peace, bliss and love inherent in every human-being but often obscured by the chatter of our minds.
5. It brings you home to yourself by reversing the trend of being in our heads and disconnected from our bodies.
With all the noise and activity of 21st century London life, it’s very easy to lose touch with yourself (and other people!), and those deeper feelings of peace, joy and love. Those deeper feelings are often obscured by our noisy, over-active yang minds, and our to-do lists, and so we become disconnected from ourselves. Most people live in their heads and are disconnected from their bodies which creates an imbalance and isn’t good for our mental health. Vinyasa flow is great for reversing this trend because it meets us where we are, coming from our lives in our yang-active states, and gradually throughout the flow or arch of the class, it takes us into a more relaxed and open yin state, out of our heads and in-touch with our bodies and emotions. By the end of the class when we reach savasana, the relaxation pose, we have a quieter, (if not quiet) mind, we’re back in our bodies and in-touch with those deeper emotions. By the time we leave the class, we have a smile on our faces, and we’re more open and connected with ourselves, and ready to connect and share with other people.
Claire Smith is a yoga teacher and teaches Vinyasa-flow yoga in Muswell Hill, London. For this and other yoga-related information, please contact Claire at email@example.com
A yoga and meditation teacher based in the heart of London.