Vinyasa Krama, Power Vinyasa, Vinyasa Flow … how are they different?


I continue with this series of publications in which I intend to clarify doubts about the differences that exist between different styles of yoga, always from the humility of my knowledge. I invite you to comment leaving your contribution or opinion.

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Vinyasa Yoga


On this occasion we will see how they differ and also how Vinyasa Krama and other popular styles are similar today, which also include the word Vinyasa in their name, such as Power Vinyasa or Vinyasa Flow .


What does Vinyasa Krama mean?

According to Master Ramaswami , the word ‘ vinyasa ‘ is formed by the prefix ‘vi’ which means ‘variations’, and the suffix ‘nyasa’ meaning ‘within certain parameters’, that is, with an established order and logic . The word ‘krama’ means ‘path, steps, steps’.

Therefore, from an etymological point of view, we could say that Vinyasa Krama Yoga is a method or way to practice yoga asanas with variations, governed by certain norms or parameters.

And what are these parameters? Master Ramaswami, in his book The Complete Work of Vinyasa Yoga , states that according to his guru T. Krishnamacharya , these rules are none other than those derived from the Yoga Sutra of Patánjali.

Fundamentally, these are standards related to breathing:

  • Maintain a soft and prolonged breath ( prayatna sithila ).
  • Synchronize breathing with movement .
  • Use Ujjayi or sound breathing .
  • Maintain concentration in the breath , so that it serves as a harness between the body and the mind.



Given the above, we could say that the name Vinyasa Krama can be interpreted in two ways :

  • In a broad sense , we could call Vinyasa Krama any method of learning and practice of yoga in which asanas are practiced with variations, respecting a certain order, a progression, and synchronizing the movement with a soft and slow ujjayi breathing.
  • Strictly speaking , it is known as Vinyasa Krama the method that Srivatsa Ramaswami masterfully synthesized in his book The Complete Work of Vinyasa Yoga , in which he collected what he learned during his more than 33 years of study with Tirumalai Krishnamacharya .


How are the different styles of Vinyasa Yoga born?

The method of learning and teaching of Krishnamacharya yoga came to the West already in the last century, from the hand of several of his disciples, some of whom preserved the technique of Vinyasa, that is, the practice of asanas fluidly , with variations, linked to each other through certain movements, always synchronized with the breath.

As it happens many times, this style was decaffeinated and edulcoró to make it more palatable to the western consumer , little accustomed to the austerity of the oriental practices.

When Pattabhi Jois , creator of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga arrived in the US in 1975, the Americans had just discovered jogging and aerobics as forms of exercise. During the following decades, the idea that there is no progress without pain ( no pain, no gain ), referred mainly to physical activity , became popular .

A practice like genuine yoga, more mental than physical, where asanas are just a way of preparing the body for pranayama and meditation exercises, did not fit well in this mentality. You had to redesign yoga .

The first thing Jois did was to eliminate religion almost completely from his system . He kept the recitation of the initial and final prayer of the Ashtanga sequences, but did not mention any other religious ritual.

He also withdrew the practice of pranayama and meditation from the Ashtanga Vinyasa sessions. While it is true that he always affirmed that the purpose of yoga is to fix the mind on the true Self, discover our true nature of supreme peace, blessing and serenity.

In 1984 , Mark Becker registered the Yogaerobics brand . According to Becker, yoga is five thousand years old, but does not provide cardiovascular activity . Adding aerobic movements and music to yoga, Becker believed he had solved the fatal flaw of yoga. (What the good lord probably did not know is that precisely the principle of not accelerating heart rate or breathing during practice is one of the cornerstones of yoga: sthira sukham asanam ).

Jois himself , along with his student Ray Rosenthal recorded in 1987 a video titled Ashtanga Yoga, an aerobic yoga system: sequenced movements synchronized with breathing.

There was no doubt that to make yoga more salable, it was necessary to present it primarily as a physical practice, demanding while entertaining.

This is how the disciples of Jois , based on their teachings, created new styles of yoga . Already in the 90s forms of yoga as emerge the Urban or Power Yoga also known as Power Vinyasa , based on the Ashtanga Vinyasa Jois.

For this, elements such as music , mirrors , high temperature , etc. were added. that are not used in the original method, but that made the classes much more salable.


What is Power Yoga?

A Power Vinyasa class is characterized by:

  • The music at full volume.
  • Normally the room temperature is raised to about 32 degrees.
  • There is a lot of movement and the standing postures are emphasized to accelerate the heart rate.
  • The term Power Yoga is attributed to two people: Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest , in the late 1980s .

Beryl , who wrote the book Power Yoga , practiced and taught Ashtanga Yoga in New York. He realized that runners and athletes were so rigid that they could not do the poses.

Therefore, he modified the practice of Ashtanga to adapt it to these people and called it Stretching and strengthening for athletes . Later he called it Yoga for athletes and, finally, Power Yoga .

A Bryan Kes t simultaneously came up with the name of Power Yoga. Like Beryl, Bryan, located in Santa Monica, California, was trying to find a way to make yoga accessible to more people.

Another teacher who popularized Power Yoga was Baron Baptist e, author of the book Journey into Power .


What is the Vinyasa Flow?

The name Vinyasa Flow is a combination of the Sanskrit term ‘vinyasa’, whose meaning I have explained at the beginning, and the English term ‘flow’, which means ‘flow’ or ‘flow’. The latter refers to the rhythm of the practice, which links some positions with others through transitional movements (vinyasas), in a constant way like the running of a river.

I don’t know who coined the term, but, without a doubt, one of the teachers who have contributed to popularize it is Shiva Rea .

Shiva combined the method of Krishnamacharya with elements of dance and tantra yoga, to create the personal style of yoga that characterizes it. In his own words:

Vinyasa means evolution, like a cycle. And flow is another way to describe Shakti, something that has an inherently intelligent rhythm and dances at that rate.

Vinyasa Flow sessions are characterized by the following:

  • Asanas grouped in sequences and linked together through certain transitional movements (vinyasas) are practiced. This distinguishes this style from others in which the postures are maintained for a long time, such as the Iyengar.
  • As in the Vinyasa Krama and the Ashtanga Vinyasa , the Ujjayii breathing is used during postural practice, always synchronized with the movements.
  • Unlike Ashtanga Vinyasa and other yoga styles such as Bikram , the sequence is not always the same , but varies in each class. It is the teacher or teacher who creates it every time.
  • Classes are often accompanied by music .



To recap, we can say that all styles of Vinyasa Yoga have in common :

  • Its origin : they come from the teachings of the great guru Tirumalai Krishnamacharya .
  • The use of the vinyasa technique , that is, the practice of asanas grouped in sequences, with variations, that are linked to each other through transitional movements, always with a breath synchronized with the movement.
  • The Vinyasa Krama is the method most respectful and loyal to the teachings of the master Krishnamacharya.

The rest of the Vinyasa Yoga styles are later modifications, arising from these teachings, to adapt them to Western taste and make the style easier to sell.


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