Vinyasa Yoga In The UAE - The Flow Yoga Style
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Vinyasa Yoga - What Is It And How Does It Differ From Other Types Of Yoga Available In The UAE?

Personal Trainer Q & A Category: Yoga & Pilates

Personal Trainer Q & A Contributor: Leila Knight

Vinyasa 'Flow' Yoga - Is it right for you?

The UAE Personal Trainers website aims to provide you with valuable information for all subjects relating to health and fitness in Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Sharjah. The subject of ‘Yoga’ is a vast one, with so many different types of Yoga it can be overwhelming when looking for the right kind of Yoga for you. To clear up some of the confusion and provide valuable tips and ‘how to’s we have created these Q&A sessions with professional yoga personal trainers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Their insight into all things ‘Yoga’ can help you make the right choice when it comes to deciding which Yoga type is best for you and your fitness needs.

In this Q&A session Leila, a professional Yoga personal trainer in Abu Dhabi explains what ‘ Vinyasa Yoga’ is and the many benefits it provides to your health and fitness.

  • There are quite a few different types of Yoga. Can you tell me what Vinyasa Yoga is and how it differs to other Yoga practices?

    Vinyasa yoga is an active, flowing style of yoga that synchronizes the breath and movement. Each inhalation has a movement, each exhalation has a movement. The movement can be big (the whole body moving), or small (a gentle pulsation up and down), or in between (moving a limb). Poses flow from one to another in a sequence. Sometimes the sequence is repeated and it becomes a moving meditation, focusing on the breath and the present moment.

    Vinyasa yoga is different from other styles such as kundalini, yin and iyengar yoga in that it is a faster paced, often strong practice. There is little, to no chanting in a vinyasa yoga class, less emphasis on alignment (as there is little time to correct poses) and often there is no quiet meditation. Vinyasa yoga tends to be more physical than spiritual, but does not necessarily have to be this way. Several styles of yoga can be placed under the vinyasa umbrella – Ashtanga, Power yoga, Baptiste yoga and Jivamukti yoga.

  • I really want to start Yoga from a beginner, is Vinyasa Yoga suitable for beginners in the UAE or do I need some basic Yoga experience?

    Many yoga studios across the UAE offer vinyasa yoga classes to beginners. In my opinion, I find that for a complete beginner, this could be confusing and may lead to injury.

    Unless a student has experience in similar body movements and mind/body awareness (eg dance, gymnastics, martial arts), As a personal yoga trainer in Abu Dhabi always start with teaching basic foundation poses or asanas before going into a flow (vinyasa yoga). It takes time to gain body awareness, to learn how to breathe evenly through the poses and where to put what, or how to engage certain muscles to achieve alignment.

    As the poses become more familiar and the body becomes accustomed to doing things differently, becoming stronger and more flexible, the mind is able to focus more effectively; then I would begin to teach Vinyasa yoga.

  • Will regular Vinyasa Yoga training help to me get fit and lose some weight or is it used as a way to just tone-up the body, can you provide some examples of Vinyasa Yoga poses and the areas of the body they target?

    If an individual chooses to practice yoga in the UAE 4 times/week or more, then improving fitness levels and losing weight is certainly viable, provided that the individual eats a healthy, balanced diet that does not exceed their caloric needs. As vinyasa yoga tends to be faster paced and a stronger practice than many other styles of yoga, it will get the heart pumping and the body sweating.

    Cardiovascular exercise is good for heart health and assists with weight loss. Strength training helps to build lean muscle, which in turn speeds up the metabolism, aiding in weight loss. A regular vinyasa yoga practice would cover both these areas, as well as toning the whole body (and mind).

    Simply practicing Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A) several times daily will increase strength, flexibility and get the heart pumping. It’s a great way to start the day. Most vinyasa classes start with a few rounds of Surya Namaskar A. Ashtanga yoga starts with 5 x Surya Namaskar A, and 5 x Surya Namaskar B. On the official Ashtanga yoga website, it is recommended to build up to 52 rounds of Surya Namaskar A before attempting the primary series. This is to build strength, particularly in the shoulders, arms, chest, back and core, as well as increasing flexibility in the spine, hips, legs and shoulders.

    Chaturanga Dandasana is a great asana (pose) to strengthen shoulders, arm and core. However the full version is challenging, so a modified version would be best for beginners.

    Anjaneyasana (low lunge or crescent moon pose) opens the hips as well as strengthening the thighs.

    Virabhadrasana 2 (warrior 2 pose) also opens the hip joint and strengthens the thighs and gluteal muscles.

    Vasisthasana (side plank pose) strengthens the arms, shoulder and core.

    Salabhasana (locust pose) strengthens the back.

    Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose) strengthens the back, thighs and gluteal muscles.

    Navasana (boat pose) strengthens the core.

  • Are there any specific Vinyasa Yoga poses that can help during pre-natal pregnancy? I often get back pain and have been advised to take more, gentle exercise.

    There are definitely yoga poses that help during pregnancy. To assist with back pain during pregnancy, try thinking of “drawing the sides of the waistline” back, in each pose.

    Usually it is OK to do whatever feels good in the first trimester for the expecting mom (if given the go ahead from her doctor). If a student has been practicing yoga regularly before pregnancy, she can continue as usual for as long as she feels comfortable. Thereafter, modifications may be made and a gentler practice may be what is needed.

    However, I am not certified in prenatal yoga and would recommend taking prenatal yoga classes, designed specifically for pregnant women.  Things to avoid would be anything that involves balancing on one leg, deep twists, placing pressure on the belly (deep forward folds, lying face down), jumping, holding the breath and “breath of fire”.

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  • I’ve heard that starting Yoga from an early age can help with concentration and focus, as a professional yoga personal trainer in Abu Dhabi do you think children of all ages could benefit from Vinyasa Yoga? What benefits can children and parents expect to see.

    I think that all people, of all ages can benefit from practising yoga in the UAE. Yoga for children is very different to yoga for adults. Yoga classes that cater to 4 year olds will be vastly different to yoga for 11 year olds, and will not necessarily have any elements of a vinyasa flow until children have developed the necessary skills (attention span, listening skills, body awareness, concentration, breathing and so on).

    Children improve their self confidence in yoga classes as it is a non-competitive group activity. If there is something that they are unable to do, guaranteed there will be something else that they can. They will learn mindfulness and how to deal with stressful moments in life – a useful tool to have no matter how old you are.

    Elements of play, music, sounds and objects are incorporated into classes to assist children in learning new skills. They learn about body awareness and to respect other people’s space. Their focus and concentration skills will improve – it is very difficult to stand on one leg if you are not present and concentrating!

  • It’s often said that as we age we tend to lose some of our flexibility and co-ordination, how does Vinyasa Yoga help with elderly fitness training?

    Caution is advised when elderly people wish to begin yoga. Because the musculoskeletal system may have pre-existing conditions, and everyone has varying degrees of range of motion, strength and flexibility; injuries are a risk. Anyone attempting to start yoga in Abu Dhabi or Dubai should start at a level that suits their individual needs.

    I would advise that elderly people interested in starting yoga, start with much gentler classes that are designed for the elderly. Focus on breathwork, correct alignment and a gentle approach with modifications is recommended. Working one-on-one with a qualified yoga teacher can help tremendously before going to a group class.  Anusara yoga is a therapeutic style of yoga which focuses a lot on proper body alignment, which is great for the elderly, whilst a vinyasa flow is more suited to younger people that want a stronger, faster paced practice.

    From there, one can move from strength to strength. As with strength or cardiovascular training, one should not progress too quickly by pushing themselves to do too much, too soon. Allow time for the body to adapt, open and strengthen. In time, an elderly person may want to progress to a gentle vinyasa flow class if their body is healthy, injury-free and they feel strong enough.

    However, vinyasa yoga will help to strengthen muscles and bones as well as increase flexibility. As a number of poses are repeated in sequence, the heart rate increases and warms up the body. This, in combination with moving the joints, will assist in the muscles and joints becoming lubricated and ready for exercise. Each yoga pose has various benefits for the body. Some are strengthening poses, some focus on stretching, some assist with specific organs, some are relaxing.

    As one gets to know the poses or asanas better and one learns to engage specific muscles and bring their joints into alignment, co-ordination will naturally follow. Some poses are symmetrical (eg. Utkatasana or fierce pose, uttanasana or forward fold), others are asymmetrical (eg. Virabhadrasana 2 or warrior 2,). Many poses also challenge balance (eg. Vrksasana – tree pose) – something else that the elderly begin to lose.

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  • Do you think it is important when learning any form of Yoga to use a Yoga trainer or teacher in the UAE? Some friends practice Yoga at home but they are concerned that their poses and posture might be wrong.

    Yes. Taking classes at a yoga studio or with a teacher will certainly add value to your practice. You will learn alignment cues and how to enter poses safely, as well as progress at a quicker rate. Learning to do things with incorrect alignment can set the body up for injuries. Progress does not necessarily mean increasing flexibility more quickly, but being more aware of what your body needs.

    An experienced and qualified yoga teacher in Abu Dhabi will be able to assist and adjust you safely so you are able to get more out of your practice. A teacher will also be able to give you modifications for poses that you may not have access to. However once you have attended several classes with a teacher, and you know how things feel in your own body, a home practice can be a fantastic supplement to your practice. You may want to practice things you have learned in class, or you may want to improve on things that aren’t done very often in class.

    Your body is your temple, it is the only one you have been given. The more you treat it with respect, love and compassion, the more you will get from your body. As a qualified and experienced yoga personal trainer I can provide you with the right tools and advice to ensure your yoga journey in the UAE goes in the right direction from the start.

Leila Knight - Yoga Personal Trainer & Coach Based In Abu Dhabi

Leila Knight is an expert when it comes to practicing Yoga in Abu Dhabi. With many years of experience and a great deal of knowledge in all areas of Yoga training and coaching. Leila is the perfect personal trainer choice if you are new to yoga or want to brush up on your techniques and poses. Suited to all levels and all ages Leila is available to provide personal yoga training in the UAE or in a group environment.

You can view Leila’s full Abu Dhabi female personal trainer profile by clicking the link below.

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