What is Viniyoga?

Viniyoga, not to be confused with vinyasa flow style of yoga, is an approach that emphasizes the appropriate application of the tools of yoga to the individual practitioners needs using modification and adaptation.  According to the American Viniyoga Institute, “Viniyoga™ is a comprehensive and authentic transmission of the teachings of yoga including asana, pranayama, bandha, sound, chanting, meditation, personal ritual and study of texts.

There are four major points that distinguish Viniyoga from other forms of yoga:

  1. Breath and Adaptation of the Breath – Viniyoga is a breath centric practice, the breath is considered the medium for the movement.  In that, as the breath moves, the spine moves and the limbs follow.  Each movement is initiated or begins with the breath.  In addition, breathing patterns may be adapted or purposely changed during the practice to achieve certain structural or energetic effects.
  2. Function over Form – In the Viniyoga tradition, the emphasis is on the functional affects of a posture (asana) rather than trying to achieve a superior representation of the form. The adaptation of the postures creates different specific effects and is used to customize the practice to the needs of the individual accommodating limitations and allowing the results to be beneficial to their particular body type.
  3. Repetition and Stay – Moving in and out of the posture with the breath several times before holding or staying in the posture. This allows the body to ease into the posture and allows the practitioner to gain the maximum benefit from the posture.
  4. Art & Science of Sequencing – The sequence of the postures throughout the practice are thoughtfully and carefully put together based on the intended effects for the practitioners.  The length, orientation and intensity are all taken into consideration.  The practice may include some or all of the various yoga tools such as, asana (posture), pranayama (breathing), chanting(sound), meditation, and personal study of inspirational texts.

Origins of Viniyoga

The teachings of Viniyoga were transmitted from Madras, India by T. Krishnamacharya and his son T.K.V. Desikachar to Gary Kraftsow of the American Viniyoga Institute.

For more information on Viniyoga, visit the American Viniyoga Institute website:

Terri Turkalj