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Yoga for Life: Vinyasa Flow

by Karen Cohen

Life is a stretch , frequently presenting last-minute, unexpected change. Through our yoga practice we gain experience at bending our bodies, our wills, and mind to any task with a certain amount of equanimity and ease. One of the gifts of yoga is that it teaches us that true flexibility means adapting to the change in every moment, while maintaining a spirit of calm, devotion and love. Given the time and attention we can create our own source of comfort. No matter what the circumstances we can draw flexibility and strength from our practice (and our community). This resource allows us tap into a powerful source of personal energy composed of: physical resiliency, emotional maturity, and spiritual optimism.

The great yoga master Krishnamacharya emphasized �Vinyasa� as an artful approach to living and central to the transformative process of yoga. �Vinyasa� literally means �linking a movement to the breath', yet also refers to progressive sequences that are led by the flow of the breath pattern. These vinyasa sequences are considered �the sacred dance of the yogis' referring to the natural, deep rhythm of the breath acting as the sacred beat. For Krishnamacharya, and his famous students B.K.S. Iyengar, Bikram Choudry, and P. Jois, Vinyasa yoga is focused on progressive sequences that unfold with an inherent harmony and intelligence.

In life, and in Krishnamacharya's �viniyoga�, we need to make a careful assessment before we begin to determine our needs and then build a complementary step-by-step practice to meet those needs. After creating the foundation of our practice, paying attention to how we begin, we can build our practice. We complete our practice, putting the roof on, being sure we have carefully addressed our stated needs.

The flow of the breath, of life itself, and of a vinyasa practice is well-described by a sailing metaphor. All three require us to synchronize natural forces that require skill and intuition. Before we take to the �sea' we must assess the conditions; boat, wind, tides, waves. These conditions constantly fluctuate, as do our physical, emotional, and spiritual states. Then we are ready to build power, take determined action, and tack with the wind as conditions change. If we get it together we are in for a fabulous ride!

At the heart of this approach is the deep honoring and attention paid to the individual. Although Iyengar, Bikram and Jois all came to develop their own �brand� of yoga, the notion that any specific yoga prescription can be given to any person is deeply counter to the teachings of Krishnamacharya. He stated that the most important thing to remember about a yogic practice is that �Yoga should be adapted to the individual, not the individual to the yoga�.

Karen B. Cohen C.L.C. RYT500 is a wellness coach and master yoga instructor, writer and speaker residing in a college town in rural Virginia. Karen leads people to their own limitless supply of creativity and vitality so that they can express their talent and abilities fully in the world. She incorporates her expertise in mind-body techniques to work with a wide spectrum of clients. Karen provides seminars, workshops as well as individual coaching and training nationally and internationally.

For more information go to KarenCohenYoga.blogspot.com and RockbridgeCoaching.blogspot.com