Variations on Vinyasa

In my class this week (join me for a repeat Thursday night at 5:45), there are a lot of opportunities for the vinyasa from plank through chaturanga to cobra or upward-facing dog to downward-facing dog. This opportunity happens about forty times in the sequence, which begins with warm-up moves, builds to standing poses, and segues into twists and hip openers. Students have the opportunity to move or hold as they see fit, and most follow the flow of the sequence, using smaller movements during the warm-up, taking the “standard” vinyasa in the middle, and toning things down as the pace and energy of the practice shift.

This is something I work with in my own practice when I take classes. It can be tough to make a conscious commitment to doing less—to holding plank while the rest of the room flows around me, to not executing yet another sloppy, misaligned chaturanga and putting my shoulder health at risk. Here are some options that I use; try them and see which work for you. Then deploy them often in your practice, even if the rest of the room is moving through the standard form yet again. Your teacher will be glad to see you responding to your body’s needs.

  • Knees-down plank to chaturanga
  • Taking cobra rather than upward-facing dog (for a kyphotic body like mine, cobra is tougher than up dog)
  • Exhale to knees-chest-chin, bottom high; inhale to low cobra (for more work, then exhale to reverse to knees-chest-chin and push up)
  • Inhale front leg back, keeping it off the ground in a one-legged plank; exhale, one-legged chaturanga; inhale, lower the foot as you transition to your backbend
  • Hold in plank
  • Hold in plank and lift one foot, then the other, while keeping core aligned
  • Lower to chaturanga and push back up—or do two push-ups
  • Lower the knees for table; hold here
  • Swap plank/chaturanga for cow/cat
  • Inhale, plank; exhale, lower the knees for table; inhale and lift the knees to let them hover an inch off the floor; exhale to downward-facing dog
  • Inhale, knees down plank; exhale, child’s pose

Please add any other ideas!