Vinyasa Krama: The Forgotten Language of Sequencing Postures

by David Life |
March, 2003
Jivamukti Yoga Focus of the Month
The newborn baby is not able to walk like a young child; it gives constant suggestion to its body through the mind and after one or two years of the practice of suggestion, the baby walks. Any knowledge that we are acquiring at present, or that which we expect to acquire in the future, will come to us through the power of suggestion. If there is evil suggestion this will result in an unhappy life, good suggestion will result in a happy life.
Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati

Learning only static postures does not reveal the incredible potential of asana. When individual asanas are linked together correctly in a sequence, the result is a physiological mantram, a fleshy vortex of intersecting rivers of everything. The word vinyasa means “a joining or linking mechanism.” Krama means “the process”; it refers to the succession of changes that occurs from moment to moment. Vinyasa krama means the succession of changes undertaken with a single pointed intention, free from fluctuation.

Most people are not conscious of their intention from moment to moment. Details fill their lives, but the casual thread of the vinyasa remains elusive. They may often find themselves in situations wondering, “How did I get into this one?” When we establish a conscious intention and teach ourselves how to remain aligned with that intention, no matter how much we are dissuaded or distracted by the external world, the process unfolds as it should.

The vinyasa is the element that sews together the various moments in a sequence of changes. It is like the string on which pearls are strung for a necklace. The linking strand may be of two types: conscious or unconscious. Change is always occurring, but usually a sequence of changes is linked by unconsciousness; in other words, the conscious mind fails to perceive it. The yogi, having escaped from the illusion of duality, is able to perceive the moment-to-moment sequence of changes past, present, and future. When one perceives clearly both the instigation and the outcome of moment-to-moment changes, one can choose to undertake a sequence of actions that has a conscious end point and will have a particular effect.

When you practice a sequence of asanas, you link them with conscious breathing. The real vinyasa, or link, however, is the intention with which you practice asanas. It is the intention that links the postures with consciousness instead of unconsciousness. The breath is a metaphor for that intention. If your intention is to practice asana to realize the Self, every breath you take will help break down your sense of separation from others.

Excerpt from Chapter 8, Jivamukti Yoga by Sharon Gannon and David Life