What is Viniyoga?
In support of the Viniyoga series currently held at the Bindu on Fridays at 11:45 am (through November 13), we invited instructor Samantha Leonard to talk with us about this style of yoga:
I’ve heard the name Viniyoga before, but I don’t know what it means. Just what is Viniyoga, exactly?
“Viniyoga is a comprehensive and authentic transmission of the teachings of yoga, as evolved by Gary Kraftsow, M.A., E-RYT 500, from the teachings transmitted by Sri T. Krishnamacarya and TKV Desikachar of Madras, and includes: Asana, Pranayama, Bandhas, Sound, Chanting, Meditation, Personal Ritual, and Study of Texts.”
(From the American Viniyoga Institute, Introduction to Viniyoga 500 Hour Manual)
The first goal of Viniyoga is to develop your link to awareness itself, and then to funnel that awareness, through attention, to the breath. Next, the student notices how the breath moves the spine. And finally how the movement of breath through the spine moves the rest of the body. Ultimately, this practice becomes a tool for deep inner transformation as you become linked at every layer to awareness itself. Poses, or asanas, are therefore done in service of developing awareness.
Viniyoga philosophy is rooted deeply in the tradition of Samkhya, which understands the whole universe as being made up of two fundamental elements: The Seer, or pure awareness, and The Seen, or everything else.
How is Viniyoga different from other forms of yoga?
The fundamental emphasis of Viniyoga is that breath is the medium for all movement, emphasizing function over form. So it’s not about how you do the poses, but why you do them.
The Viniyoga approach to yoga practice adapts the practice to the level of awareness, stage of life, and needs of the individual, recognizing and honoring the differences while optimizing the practice to best serve their needs.
Your practice might never require a headstand or crow – because the goal isn’t the pose – it’s the person.
What is Viniyoga good for?
Classes are good for anyone who wants to become more self-aware.
It is a more subtle practice, which focuses on the breath through pose repetition. Every element of the practice can be adapted to your individual needs.
A Viniyoga class will include standing poses, poses on your belly and back, and kneeling poses to prepare the spine for seated poses, breathing practice and meditation.
It is a gentle invitation to use the body to develop breath, the breath to develop a still mind, and the still mind to develop the heart for a life of meaning, depth and connection.
So what will Viniyoga look like for me?
The answer is always: “It depends.” Come and give it a try! Explore for yourSELF. Viniyoga is on Fridays from 11:45-1:00 pm at The Bindu, through November 13. No advance signup is needed. Just bring yourself and an open mind.