Vinyasa Yoga has become a very popular style of yoga in the USA, and around the world. You may know it as vinyasa flow, power flow, hot vinyasa, jivamukti and many others. In fact, there are so many variations it can get quite confusing. Here, I will explain what vinyasa means, where it came from, and what actually makes a vinyasa yoga class.
Vinyasa means movement breathing system, or, more specifically, "sequential movement that interlinks postures to form a continuous flow". The vinyasa method is part of the ashtanga yoga system, and has been from it's beginning...said to be thousands of years ago. So, "vinyasa yoga" is a very broad categorization describing any yoga class that utilizes this breathing movement system. There is really no philosophical direction, rules or sequences to follow. When we link breath to movement, an internal heat is created that will purify the body from within. The dynamic nature of the vinyasa method has captured the curiosity of many practitioners, especially athletes. Variations of this style have bubbled up all over the United States and abroad.
You may be wondering what to expect if you were to attend a vinyasa yoga class. What actually happens in class is entirely up to the teacher, his/her personality and yoga background. In some cases, the teacher will ask "any requests? What would you like to work on today?" (IMO, this isn't teaching). You will likely be taken through a short breathing exercise and/or meditation, some sun salutations, a combination of standing postures, then to the floor for seated positions, possibly some back bending and ultimately, a few minutes of rest. The order of the postures may be random, or, some teachers may actually put together a progression in which each posture you do will prepare you for the next. The only thing for certain is that each class will be different. Also, a specific teacher will likely not teach the same class from one day to the next.
As with any yoga class, learn to, and work on breathing properly (this is the most important in yoga). Also, listen closely to the teacher, work within your own ability, and don't compare yourself to other students in the class. Because this style lends itself to variety, try several different classes with different teachers until you find one that suits you. Finding a teacher that you connect with will likely keep you going back to class. Most of all enjoy the experience!