I had been practicing Yoga for many years when I happened into a Viniyoga class at my transplant center in Seattle late in 2001. I was quite ill and felt extremely sick and I had no idea exactly what this Yoga was – it seemed like not much was happening. But at the end of the class I felt profoundly still and filled with a sense of calm and balance that did not match my external circumstances at all. I knew then, that if I survived and could create the opportunity to learn more, I would.
I have been studying and practicing Viniyoga with Gary Kraftsow since 2004. I know it has been an essential element in my own healing, and I see the amazing impact a Viniyoga class or home practice can have for my students.
So What Is Viniyoga
Our view is…the breath is the primary tool through which you will be able to access what’s actually happening in your body. It’s the primary tool to activate change in your structure at a deep level, and it’s the primary tool to link your conscious awareness to the process of change.
So think of the breath as an internal flashlight, microscope, viewfinder, that helps you discover what’s going on.
– Gary Kraftsow, Founder and Director of the American Viniyoga Institute.
Viniyoga implies differentiation, adaptation, and appropriate application. It is a school of Yoga developed by my teacher, Gary Kraftsow, based on the teachings transmitted to him by T. Krishnamacharya and T.K.V. Desikachar of Madras, India.
Viniyoga asana is distinguished by the following:
- Breath is the medium for movement in asana and we adapt the pattern of breath to create different effects.
- We emphasize function over form in asana and we use the science of adaptation to achieve different results in postures.
- We move in and out of poses not just holding in a static position.
- We employ a sophisticated art and science of combining sequences of different orientation, length, and intensity to match the intention and context of each practice.
Viniyoga draws from the many tools of Yoga, not just asana, so a class experience will always incorporate breath awareness and some kind of guided relaxation or meditation and often chanting. Your experience in a class is not just that of using your body. Even in a class setting, each student can discover his or her own potential and connect with that sense of interior well-being which is available to each of us.