Awakening a New Frontier of Vinyasa Yoga by Dylan Sanders

Now, I will readily admit that I love yoga. I wake up looking forward to moving & shaking on my mat and embracing each breath. Like many folks out there, my yoga practice has saved me - its light magnetized me away from a dead-end job, its gentleness taught me to treat myself & others with more compassion, and its acceptance has allowed me to appreciate the depressive tendencies that I deal with regularly. 

My yoga practice has encouraged the belief that each one of us provides our own strengths to construct & uplift the entire community. We are innately not flawed individuals, and together we can create harmony.

There’s just one glaring element that’s always bugged me about modern vinyasa yoga (and it’s kinda a big one). It’s kept me up at night. It goes against the fundamental idea of philosophical yoga. It clashes with the Sutras themselves.

(Your brain): Well, Dylan, What is it…

It’s the asana itself. Vinyasa yoga really is an exclusive club, open only to those that fit into the boxes and shapes dictated by 50+ years of regressive asana approach. Asana instills a steady meditative seat only for those who fill that mold. 

(Your brain, again)(gasps): WTFiddlesticks!?! 

Bear with me…

Close your eyes (figuratively, I’d like to you continue reading!) & imagine a typical vinyasa yoga class. Physically, how does it begin? How are you led & instructed to warm up your body? What part builds heat & sweat? What is that demanding move you do a seemingly excessive amount of times until you finally are led towards savasana? It was likely a very lovely class that left you floating around Cloud 9 afterwards.

(Let me take a moment to answer my own questions - child’s pose / a variation of Sun Salutation A / a variation of Sun Salutation B / chaturanga to upward facing dog)

The question is - What if not every vinyasa class had to look like this? What if we could embrace the ritual & repetition of vinyasa yoga, move in an invigorating rhythm, yet acknowledge the practical flaws of the traditional system? What if we could truly move in an evolutionary manner - what doors could that open in our consciousness?

(Your inquisitive brain, again): So the yoga I’m doing is wrong?!?

Well, that’s part of it - the yoga isn’t wrong, but the application of asana into your body can be more efficient. Traditional Sun Salutation As are made for a specific body type - open hamstrings, long arms & legs, short torsos and mobile wrists & shoulders. We can improve on these specific movements in time, but only to the extent that our bodies fit into these boxes. I have skis for arms & legs, minor restrictions in my hamstrings (especially for my size) and wrists & shoulders trained daily to support my bodyweight.

But I will never progress into those pristine Sun Salutations we see on our favorite Instagram accounts, or from old Ashtanga videos of the 90s (for the total yoga nerds out there). Why not? I have shallow hip joints that hit their end range quickly when I fold forward, and the dorsiflexion of my hand is limited by my wrist structure. There’s no effort or manifestation in the world that will change my bone structure…

….and I accept that. I know my body well enough to know that my physical performance does not rely on the limited muscles targeted in traditional Sun Salutations, and that I can access more beneficial work in my musculature with even just a few tweaks & changes. 

(Once more, your brain chimes in with the perfect question): But how???

In the Awakening Yoga system, we bypass the unnecessary stresses emulated in vinyasa yoga in order to access the places we can realistically grow. We step or float to a wider stance to encourage full leg activation. We avoid the multitude of deep forward folds. We integrate the strength of each piece of the body to support the movement of the whole, and we propose that the spinal column has more fluidity than we’ve ever known. 

I wholeheartedly believe it’s time to change the conversation regarding yoga asana. Vinyasa yoga wasn’t made for every “body”, but it sure as shit can be if we think outside the box. If we progress our thoughts on chaturanga, closed hip postures, classical vinyasa structures and break from the industrial logjam it has created, we can actually develop vinyasa yoga for EVERY BODY.

It is time for physical yoga to truly be evolutionary - and Awakening Yoga is searching for just that. On our retreat, be prepared to sweat & challenge yourself, feel muscles light up that have been dormant for years, and unlock strength that is coiled deep within. We will embrace the breath, stabilize the mind’s chatter and open up an entirely new world of vinyasa yoga for you.

By Dylan Sanders

Join and Dylan and Nicki to awaken your yoga practice at Prana Del Mar in Baja, Mexico, April 6-11, 2019. Get ready to connect and transform!