This week, I taught on the word "vinyasa."
Vinyasa (pronounced vin-yah-sah) may be one of the better known words in yoga. We see it used to describe what is currently, arguably, the most popular form of modern yoga: flow. Flow is a type of yoga that encompasses a diverse set of styles, but generally uses creative sequences and emphasizes transitional movements as well as movement done in rhythm with the breath.
The word itself has different interpretations. Vi is a prefix used to describe the self, or the thing of the self. Nyasa means "to place," and so together it is literally "placing the self." More artfully, some translate it as "to place with attention."
We can interpret this in a very physical way, namely that, as yogis, we strive to become more conscientious of our physical movements, which can then translate to a greater degree of awareness in the mind and the spirit. However, the word vinyasa also strongly implies progression. It is a practice of self-inquiry in relation to the flow of our personal development; an invitation to observe our growth in relation to time and to find a way to move through our lives gracefully.
Put more simply, vinyasa asks us to pay attention to our life in motion. How does any action we take inform those that follow? And how is that action informed by what came before? Within the cycle of evolution, there is an endless array of choices, and vinyasa invites us to navigate these possibilities with great attention. When we do so, we can begin to see the magnificence of our own journey.