Know Your Styles: What is Viniyoga?

Image Credit:  on Wikipedia.
Image Credit: on Wikipedia.

Viniyoga, was created and developed by Krishnamacharya, the great guru and yoga master. “Vini” in loosely translated Sanskrit means “adaption,” and that’s just what this practice is, adapting yoga to the individual. It teaches students to adapt traditional yoga practices to fit their needs, limits, and goals. Viniyoga is also for everyone and anyone, taking our dysfunctional movement patterns (we all have some that create stress on our bodies) and forming new structural and functional movements for our body. Because of the personalized instruction it is one of the recommended styles for beginners.

See Also: The Absolute Beginners Guide to Yoga

Origins of Viniyoga

T.K.V. Desikachar, the son of Krishnamacharya, modernized and made Viniyoga popular. Born in 1938, he was immersed in yoga, although he didn’t care much for Hatha Yoga. He reportedly found it so boring he climbed a coconut tree to escape practice. Talk about dedication to avoiding a practice! In his 20s he began studying underneath his father.

Then in 1976, he opened Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, in India. Desikachar, drew directly on his father’s teachings and developed Viniyoga. Since then, the Yoga Mandiram has led the way in research of yoga and the impact it has on people suffering schizophrenia, diabetes, asthma, and depression. “Yoga is basically a program for the spine at every level—physical, respiratory, mental, and spiritual,” says Desikachar.

The Practice of Viniyoga

Image Credit: Grand Velas Puerto Vallarta on Flickr.
Image Credit: Grand Velas Puerto Vallarta on Flickr.

Viniyoga is not a standardized program. In Yoga, there is no perfect posture, but there is a perfect way for you achieve the posture to obtain maximum benefit for your body. Viniyoga is tailored to a certain person, adapting to their physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental abilities — like a much more intense version of a private yoga session.

It also focuses on pranayama, meditation, yoga philosophy, and Vedic chanting. All viniyoga teachers are highly trained to help you obtain the best practice for you. The idea is to maximize your practice in all forms. They practice the art of sequencing as well. Much like Vinyasa or Ashtanga, it includes lots of warming up, and repetition of postures, but much simpler and slower. Once the body is warmed up, then postures will be held for longer, similar to Iyengar or Hatha.

See Also: The 5 Basic Principles of Yoga Sequencing

Viniyoga in the West

Gary Kraftsow started the surge of Viniyoga in America. He studied under Desikachar in India in 1974. He opened Maui Yoga Therapy in 1983, trained teachers the ways and lineage of Viniyoga. His ability to teach and pass along this knowledge got him recognized by Viniyoga International in France and they awarded him a diploma in 1989. Then in 1999, Maui Yoga Therapy became American Viniyoga Institute.

Kraftsow pioneered the transmission of yoga for health, healing, and personal transformation. It is now tied closely in with Yoga Therapy, derived from the tradition of Patanjali and Ayurvedic system of health. Focusing on applying adapted yoga techniques to anyone with health challenges.

What to Expect in a Class?

Image Credit: Gilly Walker on Flickr.
Image Credit: Gilly Walker on Flickr.

In a Viniyoga class, you will find highly qualified and trained teachers. Besides having custom adjustments, some classes will have pranayama breathing, chanting, and meditation, all depending on the need of the class. Classes can be gentle, but not exclusively. If there are more advanced students in the class the teacher will adapt to their needs.

There is also a strong focus on alignment and holding postures after the body has been sufficiently warmed up. Be sure to tell a teacher of any injuries or complications when you are in class, that way they can better customize your yoga experience.

Teachers and Classes in London

  • Mandy Meaden Teacher offering Hatha and Viniyoga and Other in BR1 3SL
  • Oaktree Yoga — Studio offering Ashtanga and Hatha and Viniyoga in SE23
  • Carl Hargreaves — Teacher offering Viniyoga and Scaravelli and Hatha in N2 9DX
  • Adrienne Lewis — Teacher offering Viniyoga and Hatha and Yin in N21 3JF

Have you taken a viniyoga class before? If you have, I’d love to hear your experience! If you have any other teachers to add to the list, let us know as well!

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