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Viniyoga™ is a form of yoga that focuses on using breath to propel movement. The practice is less concerned with proper positioning than typical yoga styles and more focused on the specific effect each pose has on the body. It can be a highly personalized experience, with a specific routine of poses and movements devised by an instructor for one-on-one lessons with a student. The method can also be used in a classroom setting, however. Though it is meant to accommodate students at all levels of ability and health, the practice has proven to be particularly effective as physical therapy, and particularly for patients with lower back pain.
The term viniyoga essentially means “application” and “to use” or “employ” in Sanskrit. More literally, it also refers to detachment and separation. It is a practice derived from the teachings of T.K.V. Desikachar and T. Krishnamacharya. Though Desikachar once used viniyoga to describe his belief in using flexibility with the tools of yoga practice, he ultimately relinquished his connection with the term. A more devoted practitioner of the form, Krishnamacharya equated the spirit of the practice with the natural progression of a day, from dawn, through midday, and on to sunset.
In addition to personalized practice and breathing, Viniyoga™ focuses heavily of repetition of movements. This enables the instructor to observe the student carefully and gather information about which methods work best. The instructor will often constantly create new combinations of movement and poses in order to meet the needs of the student.
When used to heal, Viniyoga™ draws from the principles of both yoga and Ayurveda, or traditional Indian medicine. As it is less dependent on perfecting form than many typical yoga styles, but rather on adapting movements and poses for optimum effect on the body, the practice can be extremely effective as a form of physical therapy. The repetitive routines can help to gently rebuild muscle strength and flexibility. Many of the poses used in Viniyoga™ also isolate different parts of the body, which can be effective in targeted healing.
Viniyoga™ can help patients with injuries and severe pain in addition to reducing discomfort for individuals with typical daily aches and pains. It has proven to be especially helpful for patients with persistent pain in the lower back, including a bone between the hipbones known as the sacrum. The practice can also reduce tension and pain in the shoulders, upper back, neck, and hips.
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