Vinyasa Yoga: Moving into Stillness
Jun 30, 2011 11:13AM
● By Rachel Wilson
Ironically, physical movement often helps to still a busy mind. Chitta vritti is a Sanskrit term that roughly translates to “mind fluctuations,” or the constant mental chatter that never seems to stop during waking hours, leaving people mentally fatigued, stressed and overwhelmed. Metaphorically speaking, this is like bouncing out of bed in the morning and attempting a continuous sprint until night.
Thus, the need for meditation. According to Patanjali, the Indian scholar and philosopher credited for compiling the Yoga Sutras, the main point of yoga is chitta-vrtti-nirodha, or stilling the fluctuations of the mind. This ability of the ancient practice to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase energy and improve mood is well documented. Yet, many people never experience these benefits because they cringe at the idea of sitting still and attempting to focus and remain calm, resisting the mind’s urge to wander.
The great news for busybodies is that it’s not necessary to sit still in order to meditate. In vinyasa yoga, the mind eases into stillness through constant motion of the body. The word vinyasa means “breath-synchronized movement.” In other words, instead of holding still, or even maintaining a stationary pose, this practices flows from one move into the next with an inhalation or an exhalation. Poses are linked in a fluid, focused and powerful flow via the exchange of each breath.
Meditation is not about turning the body into a statue; it is about awareness. It is about letting go of the thoughts cluttering the mind, and as a result, quieting the mind. One of the easiest and most effective ways to bring about a still mind is to focus on each breath and movement, letting distractions slowly melt away.
Vinyasa yoga offers many benefits. As practitioners flow through powerful movements, they sweat, tone, and burn fat. In time, they are inevitably surprised that the benefit they appreciate the most is that through the physical work, their minds have become perfectly settled into a meditative state and they have moved into stillness.
Rachel Wilson is the owner of Om My Yoga located at 4407 Carlisle Pike, Camp Hill. She is an experienced register yoga teacher (E-RYT) and senior master trainer for YogaFit, an ACE certified personal trainer and certified Pilates trainer. For more information, call 717-645-6298 or visit OmMyYoga.com.