Viniyoga: a philosophy of yoga
Discover the Viniyogaa pedagogy which proposes a personalized practiceadapted to the specificities of each person. Can’t find a yoga style that really suits you? The problem may not be the discipline you practice but your approach to it!
Before we begin to trace the history of Viniyoga, here are some interesting facts to know if you have never heard of this “style” of Yoga:
- The word Viniyoga belongs to the classical Yoga, it is found in chapter 3, sutra 6 of the book of Yoga-Sutra by Patanjali. It was traditionally associated with meditation, but nowadays it also concerns postures and breathing.
- It is not really a style of yoga but more a lineage that has inspired many yoga masters over the years.
- Viniyoga is also called “Madras Yoga” after the place where the method was developed or “Desikachar Yoga” after the master who created it.
- It brings together all forms of practice but with a particular intention of transmission, as close as possible to the needs of each student.
- The French Federation of Viniyoga defines its concept as “a specific pedagogy of Yoga“. So it is not the yoga that is different but the way the teacher transmits and teaches it.
History of Viniyoga
As you can see, Viniyoga is not a style of yoga in its own right, but rather an approach to yoga that can be adapted to each practitioner. But how and where was it created?
- It is in India, at the beginning of the 20th century that the master T Krishnamacharya developed this current of thought. At the end of the 19th century, he was teaching yoga in India but the discipline was reserved for an elite, mainly men, and was transmitted in very remote places. Yoga then began to open up during the 1930s. Nevertheless, Krishnamacharya continued to find that the practice and learning of the discipline was still not suitable for everyone, especially women.
- He then introduced the idea that yoga should be adapted to each practitioner. This includes physical condition, gender, but also origin and culture which play a key role in the approach and learning of the discipline. He then said this famous quote: “It is not the person who must adapt to yoga, but yoga that must adapt to the person.
- Sri T Krishnamacharya had many students, including such well-known students as BKS Iyengar, Sri K Pattabhi Jois andhis son, Sri TKV Desikachar. It is then the latter who will really develop the concept of Viniyoga. Indeed, after having followed his father’s teaching for more than 30 years, Desikachar took over his concept and allowed his values and philosophy to spread all over the world during the 1970s. He then trained a large number of Western teachers, especially from Europe and the United States.
- However, it was important to Desikachar that Viniyoga not be considered as a style of yoga or as a school but that it be seen as an approach to the discipline. It includes all forms of Yoga, and is therefore a direction to get all the benefits of its practice. According to him, it is essential to adapt the techniques by listening to the needs of the students but also of the teachers. Viniyoga means “right application of the practice”.
The arrival of Viniyoga in the West
Thanks to the teachers trained by Desikachar, who themselves trained new teachers, the philosophy of Viniyoga was able to spread to the West.
- One of the teachers who has been essential in sharing these values is Claude Maréchal . Born in Belgium, he discovered yoga at the age of 20, which helped him improve his performance as a top athlete. However, following an injury, his career took off and he became a PE teacher. From 1966, following the advice of a friend, he concentrated on teaching yoga.
- He went to India for the first time in 1969 and met TKV Desikachar who spent several years training him. Claude Maréchal regularly spends several months in India to continue his training, which represents a total of 6 years spread over 40 years. He then learnt from Desikachar but also from his father, Krishnamacharya, who personally invited him to develop the principles of Viniyoga in the West.
- Claude Maréchal then spent many years training teachers in Europe, not only at the Viniyoga school in France but also in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal. He also teaches this philosophy in Quebec. Finally, he teaches yogatherapy and is the editor of the magazine Viniyoga which was created in 1983. His influence in Western Yoga is therefore very important.
The principles of Viniyoga
Viniyoga finds its techniques in the traditions and philosophies of yoga whileadapting them to the Western world. According to Desikachar, yoga is far from being a simple sequence of postures for which the work is only physical. The philosophical dimension is equally important, such as meditation, mudras and breathing.
Here are the 3 essential principles of Viniyoga:
- The teacher must be a practitioner himself and apply the techniques of yoga with great discipline and accuracy
- The teacher must also develop a great capacity for observation
- Viniyoga must take into account the particularities and needs of each student
As previously explained, Viniyoga is adapted to each person according to age, physical and psychological state, cultural and religious affiliations, but also to his or her expectations, place of living, professional activities, abilities, etc.
- The Viniyoga pedagogy therefore takes into account all aspects of a person and pays great attention to the particularity of his or her needs and potential in order to offer the most adapted and constructive teaching.
- On the other hand, Viniyoga is the meeting of an Eastern tradition in a Western context. The fundamental texts are therefore very important but they are adapted to the evolutions and to the contemporary man.
- The practice of Viniyoga and its pedagogy take their full meaning during face-to-face meetings between the student and the teacher.
How does a Viniyoga class work?
As with Vinyasa, the work of the session is done through the deep breathing that accompanies the postures. You must coordinate your movements with your breathing in and out. The asanas are then practiced several times, in dynamic and static.
Viniyoga group classes
In the Viniyoga pedagogy, even the group classes must take into account the particularities of each person. The session is then built in a progressive way to approach the most delicate asanas in complete safety. A session includes postural, respiratory and sensory work, which leads quite naturally to a feeling of well-being and a state of meditation. However, it can be complicated to accommodate everyone in these conditions. This is why some courses are addressed to a particular public with courses reserved for children, teenagers, seniors, etc.
Private Viniyoga lessons
Private lessons are the best way to enjoy all the benefits of the Viniyoga philosophy. The teacher can then offer all his presence to his student. He can also listen to his requests, needs and difficulties and propose a practice more adapted to his problems. This can include asanas, breathing techniques, meditation, etc.
Join the ViniYoga Federation !
What equipment for Viniyoga?
Since your practice is totally adapted to you thanks to Viniyoga, it is important to have a material also adapted to your expectations and your needs! Yogom offers you several ranges of mats in order to find the one that will suit you best!
For a versatile practice, the mat of the Performance Range can be a good solution! Indeed, its thickness of 4mm and its soft microfiber coating allow a comfortable practice during the static postures. On the other hand, its grip on the ground and itsanti-slip technology that activates on contact with perspiration are excellent for practicing asanas in a dynamic way. By being wider than the classic yoga mats, it allows for unrestricted sessions! Finally, the Performance mats are foldable in 3 and are suitable for indoor and outdoor use, so they can accompany you on all your adventures! If you don’t sweat during your practice but are convinced by this mat, don’t panic! Wet your mat to activate its anti-slip technology and feel free to repeat it several times during your session if necessary!
If you wish to have a more occasional practice and that you do not sweat or little during your sessions, the Yomad range is ideal for you! Yomad mats are suitable for yoga, pilates and fitness sessions in basketball for beginners or for a gentle indoor practice once or twice a week. The6mm thickness of this mat makes it extremely comfortable during static practices, which will relieve your joints! Its manufacture is ecological and non-toxic to respect your skin! Finally, this mat is ultra light so you can go anywhere and is reversible so you can enjoy 2 mats in 1!
Another way to adapt your sessions to your needs is to use yoga accessories ! They can make difficult exercises more accessible depending on your physical abilities and flexibility. They will help you progress smoothly and without the risk of injury. You can use yoga bricks to extend your upper or lower limbs and disguise your lack of flexibility. Yoga straps can be used to work on your balance without putting too much strain on your muscles and joints. Finally, the bolster is ideal to relieve your body and especially your back by working on the flexibility of this area. So don’t wait any longer, equip yourself now!
The benefits of Viniyoga
Since Viniyoga is a practice adapted to the needs of everyone, there are many benefits to practicing it:
- Better stress management and reduced anxiety
- Better sleep, especially due to the reduction of stress
- Better heart rate and breathing
- Greater flexibility through static and dynamic practice
- A blossoming of the individual since his practice corresponds to him 100%.
In addition, by practicing a discipline that is totally tailored to you, it is easier to maintain a discipline and routine and therefore achieve long-term benefits.
Now that you have a personal approach to yoga, find out which practice fits you best with the article “Which style of yoga to practice?” !