I have been doing yoga since I was a freshman in college, and while I haven’t always been consistent, I have absolutely loved the feeling that it gave me. It allowed me to get more in touch with my body, get a little more flexible, and brought me into myself to get a better understanding of how I was thinking about things and I could slow down my mind. I always find myself coming back to it when I’ve drifted away.
I’ve done yoga in my living room, in classes, at retreats at Kripalu, Easton Mountain, and India. I’ve done all sorts of yoga of various different styles with different teachers. It’s great about the different things that you can get from different experiences. That being said, I have found one style that has become very popular, and I’ve found that it breaks a lot of the tenets of yoga for me and seems to be looking to dominate the yoga scene. It’s sometimes getting harder and harder to find places where you have alternatives to this, and it’s the “in” style to do now. That style is vinyasa, and I’ve come to do my best to avoid it at all costs.
Here are the reasons that I would rather do any other type of yoga:
- One of the main things is that one of the main parts of yoga is that any move shouldn’t make you hurt. It’s about working within your body systems. So what do vinyasa instructors do? They almost immediately go into numerous repetitions of Chaturanga (a low pushup, which put tremendous strain on your shoulders) to Upward Facing Dog (a move where you are holding yourself up by your hands, again, putting tremendous strain on your shoulders), to Downward Facing Dog (a move when you are in an inverted V shape, supporting yourself with your feet and your hands, and have more strain on your shoulders and they are supporting a large majority of your body weight), and all of this without much warmup. Additionally, they will do this numerous times throughout the entire class and then ask you to stay in Downward Facing Dog as a “rest pose”. I consider Downward Facing Dog to be one of the harder poses in yoga and one that should be worked up to throughout the class. I know that I only have the ability to do about 10 of these poses without seriously damaging my shoulders, and that’s if they are spaced out, but vinyasa instructors tend to incessantly throw them at students.
Basically, I think it’s very dangerous to have students do very difficult poses without proper warm ups and to just push the body to failure.
- I’ve noticed that when I’ve been at vinyasa classes, it tends to be the young, Lululemon-wearing crowd who’s doing yoga for a workout and tends to look down on any other type of yoga as lesser than.
One studio that I had a month-long membership at, I noticed that my first two classes were both vinyasa, I mentioned that there were numerous styles of yoga (hatha, Iyengar, kundalini, yin, etc.), and I asked if there were any classes there that weren’t vinyasa. I got a very condescending response from the directors there with the answer “Oh, you mean hippy yoga?” with the very clear intention that those were old styles that no one does anymore. They seemed amused that I would even ask about anything else. That studio was not the first place that I’ve encountered this attitude, and I find it counter to what I believe yoga to be about.
- I’ve gotten a number of times in vinyasa classes where they instructor speaks to something like “Are you struggling and want to give up? Do you do this in other parts of your life? Can you hold it a bit longer?” While this is not a bad thing overall, to do it after you have pushed someone into and through a sequence without proper warmup, and then shame them for not being able to endure through something that they haven’t been prepared for, that’s not inspiring. That’s a form of abuse the type that is used by bullies and manipulators.
Also, I’ve notice that the vinyasa instructors seem to throw in “do another vinyasa” at just about any time in the class. It seems like they do it because they can’t think of something else. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of yoga poses, yet this style tends to lean on a very short list. Also, the “flow” seems to go so fast that you can never actually pay attention to the pose you’re in.
- Lastly, it seems that a lot of places are moving to all vinyasa, all the time. A yoga series that I’ve been going to for over a decade has recently cycled through new teachers, and all the new teachers seem to only teach vinyasa. I’m getting fewer and fewer places that actually offer different types. Granted, I’m not saying that vinyasa shouldn’t be there for those that like it, but it seems like most vinyasa teachers are looking for domination over all other yoga options.
For all these reasons, I avoid any classes that are labeled vinyasa or have teachers that primarily teach vinyasa. I always leave the class exhausted, sore, and frustrated, which is what I want to move out of my life while taking a yoga class.