Viniyoga: Appropriate Application
This week’s blog continues our discussion about asana, specifically Viniyoga’s approach to asana. Remember, last week we explored the benefits of asana practice and repetition/stay.
In ancient Sanskrit, Viniyoga means appropriate application. What the Ancients understood and what Viniyoga (the yoga method) embodies is that one size most definitely does not fit all in asana practice.
The next time you’re out and about – at a restaurant, grocery store, etc. – play a little game. Observe the people around you. Notice how different everyone and everybody is. Some people walk with long strides while others shuffle along. Some have shoulder slump while others throw their shoulders back military style. Some folks are sway backed and some have flat backs. The list could go on but you get the idea. People watching is educational because everyone is so different.
Given all these differences, does it make any sense to force everyone into the same yoga posture? Okay, that’s a rhetorical question.
Viniyoga teaches that asana practice is about the student first and adapts the asana to the student’s needs. For example, suppose one student has a rounded upper back and another has a relatively flat upper back. The position of the arms during standing backbends would be different for each student so as to not exacerbate the respective conditions.
Other types of yoga teach that there is a correct, classical form and the student’s objective during practice is to master the classical form. In other words, the emphasis during practice is on the asana rather than the student.
There are other questions to consider when adapting asanas and we’ll explore those next week. But, the first question to answer is always what are the needs and interests of the student?
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