13 Fundamental Vinyasa Yoga Poses For A Moving Meditation

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Disclaimer Please note this article mentions Pattabhi Jois who has faced numerous allegations of sexual assault. We stand with the victims and hope that our articles can shed light on the truth.

Vinyasa yoga, often referred to as flow yoga, is a dynamic form of yoga that synchronizes breath with movement.

It offers practitioners a blend of physical exercise, meditation, and conscious breathing.

With its focus on fluidity, strength, and flexibility, vinyasa yoga has gained immense popularity worldwide.

In this article, we will explore and guide you through 13 fundamental vinyasa yoga poses that will help cultivate an invigorating mind-body connection.

In this article we will discuss:

  • Origins of Vinyasa yoga
  • Basics of Vinyasa yoga
  • Benefits of Vinyasa yoga poses
  • 6 Basic Vinyasa yoga Poses
  • 10 more Vinyasa yoga poses
  • A Vinyasa yoga practice

Read on.

a woman in a red top doing downward dog, a yoga pose

Origins of Vinyasa Yoga

The origins of vinyasa yoga can be traced back to the ancient Vedic texts of India.

These texts contain references to a type of yoga practice that involved linking breath with movement.

The word “vinyasa” comes from the Sanskrit root “nyasa,” which means “to place” or “to arrange.”

In the context of yoga, vinyasa refers to the linking of breath with movement.

The modern form of vinyasa yoga is said to have originated with the yogi Sri Krishnamacharya, who was a student of the sage Ramamohan Brahmachari, considered to be the grandfather of modern yoga.

Krishnamacharya taught that the movements between each asana should be considered just as significant as the postures themselves, deepening concentration and body consciousness throughout the entire practice.

Krishnamacharya’s student, K. Pattabhi Jois, further developed the vinyasa yoga tradition.

Jois taught a style of vinyasa yoga called Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, which is now one of the most popular styles of yoga in the world.

In the 1990s, a number of yoga teachers from the United States began to develop their own styles of vinyasa flow yoga.

These teachers, such as Beryl Bender Birch, Bryan Kest, and Baron Baptiste, drew inspiration from Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, but they also incorporated elements from other styles of yoga, such as Iyengar yoga and Anusara yoga.

a man in a white tank unrolling a black yoga mat

Basics of Vinyasa Yoga

The style of Vinyasa yoga is often referred to as “flow yoga” because of the smooth and continuous movements that are characteristic of the practice.

It is a style of yoga that links breath with movement.

This means that you move from one pose to the next in a flowing and coordinated way, with each movement being synchronized with your breath.

Some of the basics and foundations of vinyasa yoga include:

  • Breathing: Vinyasa yoga is all about breath awareness. Whether you’re new to Vinyasa or a long-time practitioner, the focus on your breath is key. As you move from pose to pose, try to stay connected with your breath, no matter what else is going on.
  • Alignment: Vinyasa yoga is also about proper alignment that works for your body. Pay attention to how your body feels and what you need, and avoid putting any unnecessary stress on your joints or muscles, instead, focus on being present with what is available for you.
  • Flow: Vinyasa yoga is all about flow. The intention is to move smoothly and fluidly with the breath, putting special emphasis on transitions.
  • Pacing: Vinyasa yoga can be a vigorous practice if you choose it to be, but it can also be more mellow, almost leaning into slow flow. The intention is to connect the movement with the breath and stay present.
a man doing warrior yoga pose in a grey room

Benefits of Vinyasa yoga poses

Vinyasa yoga sequences often involve dynamic movements that engage various muscle groups, helping to develop strength and increase flexibility.

Due to the continuous flowing nature of vinyasa yoga poses in a sequence, it can elevate the heart rate and promote better cardiovascular health, similar to a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.

Vinyasa yoga poses and sequences promote deep relaxation and reduce stress, helping calm the mind, improve focus and overall health.

The fluid transitions between poses in vinyasa yoga require concentration and body awareness.

This practice can improve balance, coordination, and proprioception (sense of body position).

To check out some more of the great benefits of practicing vinyasa yoga, read this.

6 Basic Vinyasa Yoga Poses

Unlike other styles of yoga like Ashtanga where the sequence is set, Vinyasa yoga sequences are completely up to the practitioner or the teacher.

With sequencing that is comprehensive and accessible, pretty much all postures can be considered vinyasa yoga poses.

However, there are certain asanas that have a tendency to make an appearance in this style of yoga more than others.

Here are some of the most common vinyasa yoga poses for you to get started:

1# Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Mountain pose is one of the most foundational vinyasa yoga poses there is.

A symmetrical yoga pose, Tadasana sets the foundation for the physical practice, and it is a great posture to introduce into your sequence for developing balance, focus, and presence.

annotated image of a woman doing yoga's mountain pose

2# Standing forward bend (Uttanasana)

This is a great posture to open up the entire back body, and it happens to often be included in vinyasa yoga sequences, many times, as a transitioning posture or to counter deep back bending poses.

annotated image of a woman doing yoga's standing forward bend pose

3# Plank pose (Phalakasana)

Another asana that is usually used in Vinyasa flow classes to transition, especially from standing to either prone postures, is a great pose to foster strength and stability in the body, as well as help focus your mind.

an annotated image of a woman in black yoga clothes doing plank pose

4# Four Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)

This important posture in traditions like Asthanga, Power and Vinyasa yoga, is a posture that requires strength, stability, and awareness.

Check out our tips here.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing four limbed staff pose

5# Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

One of the best vinyasa yoga postures to create space in the front of the body, Bhujangasana is a gentle backend that is also used in transition.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing cobra pose

6# Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

A full body stretch that strengthens the arms, shoulders, and legs.

In flow-like classes, this yoga posture can often be considered a resting posture between sequences.

If Downward Dog doesn’t serve you, remember that you can always take a table-top position instead and remain closer to the ground.

annotated image of a woman doing yoga's downward facing dog

6 more vinyasa yoga poses

7# Warrior 1 pose (Virabhadrasana I)

The postures of the Warriors (1, 2 and 3) are often practiced in Asthanga, power, and flow-style classes like Vinyasa.

The warrior poses help build strength in the legs, core, and arms, as well as flexibility in the hips and hamstrings.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing warrior 1 pose

8# Warrior 2 pose (Virabhadrasana II)

A standing pose that strengthens the legs, improves balance, and opens the hips and chest, virabhadrasana II is a posture that fosters inner and outer strength and determination.

an annotated image of a woman doing warrior 2 pose

9# Triangle pose (Trikonansana)

The arm extension in triangle pose helps to increase flexibility in the shoulders and chest.

This can be helpful for improving posture and even your breathing, which in turn helps regulate your nervous system.

Triangle pose can also be a great way to transition between other poses in a vinyasa flow class. The side stretch can help to prepare the body for poses such as warrior II or revolved triangle pose.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing triangle pose

10# Upward-facing dog pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

An energizing backbend that opens the chest, stretches the front body, and strengthens the arms and wrists.

In many classes, the poses of Bhujangasana and Urdhva Mukha Svanasa can be used interchangeably by the practitioner in order to personalize their experience.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing upward facing dog pose

11# Tree pose (Vrksasana)

This is one of the most common balancing vinyasa yoga poses.

Tree strengthens the legs and core, improves stability and promotes focus and grounding.

This asana is often included in the balancing section of a Vinyasa class, which tends to be toward the middle of the practice.

To learn more about balancing postures, check out this article.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing tree pose

12# Corpse pose (Savasana)

This posture of integration is often found at the end of many styles of yoga, including the active styles that we’ve mentioned in this article, as well as many of the more grounding styles of yoga, like restorative, Yin, etc.

annotated image of a woman in corpse pose, savasana

a vinyasa yoga practice

To dive right in and experience a class, try this one, free on Youtube, where you’ll get to experience some of the vinyasa yoga poses that we’ve explored in this article:

To Conclude

Vinyasa yoga is a popular style of yoga practiced across the globe.

Its origins can be traced back to Sri Krishnamacharya, and his disciple Patthabi Jois, but the vinyasa yoga poses and sequences that we practiced nowadays come mainly from the teachings of yoga teachers in the United States in the 1990s.

Vinyasa is characterized by the flow-like movements always linked to the breath, making the practice often feel like a moving meditation.

Vinyasa yoga poses are not specific to the style, nor does flow yoga have a set sequence, hence all poses could be vinyasa yoga poses if practiced within the parameters of the style.

To learn a bit more about the differences between Vinyasa and Hatha yoga, read this piece next.

Photo of author
Laia is an Afro-Catalan accessible and inclusive yoga & meditation teacher. She has trained in hatha, vinyasa, trauma-informed yoga, yin yoga, and restorative yoga and holds E-RYT 500 and YACEP accreditations with the Yoga Alliance. Additionally, she is a freelance writer and translator, publishing in Catalan, English, and Spanish. As a former professional athlete who lives with a chronic illness, Laia has gained valuable insights into the benefits of self-care and the importance of pausing and slowing down. She is dedicated to sharing accessible and sustainable practices of yoga and meditation to help people create a more harmonious life. Being a black and chronically ill individual, her mission is to empower non-normative yoga teachers to find their unique voices and develop tools to make wellness practices accessible to the communities they serve, thereby taking up space and creating a more inclusive and diverse yoga industry. Furthermore, as a writer and creative, she is passionate about supporting other creatives and innovators. She fosters a genuine community dedicated to finding balance while staying productive and inspired. Laia has developed unique techniques that intertwine yoga and meditation with writing, journaling, and other accessible methods to help each other stay creative and mindful.

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