Last Updated: May 22, 2017

Definition - What does Viniyoga mean?

Viniyoga is a style of Hatha yoga that promotes the personalization of yoga practices to suit each individual yogi. From Sanskrit, the prefixes, vi and ni, denote “adaptation” or “appropriate application.” It involves adapting the methods of yoga to ensure they are exactly what the yogi needs in mind, body and spirit.

The Viniyoga approach is thought to originate within the teachings of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and T.K.V. Desikacher; and was, in part, popularized in the West by Gary Kraftsow and the American Viniyoga Institute. It is considered to be an authentic transmission of yogic teachings and integrates asana, pranayama, use of bandhas, chanting and meditation.

Yogapedia explains Viniyoga

The teacher-student relationship is very important to the practice of Viniyoga because, without one set approach, the teacher must learn about their students so they can understand what they uniquely need. This includes understanding their current condition, their potential, their goals and their motivators. The teacher will then intend to empower their students to develop their own yoga tools and techniques, which will let them create and follow their own spiritual path.

There are said to be four differentiators of Viniyoga:

  1. The connection between breath and movement. This is used in Viniyoga to make the movements more powerful and mindful.
  2. The combination of movement and staying in poses. The movement warms the body and prepares it for longer holds of asanas. It is also said to help retrain habitual patterns of movement, which has a positive impact on the yogi on and off the mat.
  3. Poses are adapted to suit the yogi. In Viniyoga, there is no one “correct” form. Instead, the intention is for the yogi to find a way to feel the benefits of a posture, rather than adopting a certain shape.
  4. Sequencing is used to prepare and release the body from each posture. The teacher will organize their classes in such a way to ensure the body is ready for each asana, and is also counter-stretched or released afterward.

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