The Last Vinyasa: The Significance of Spaces Between

Tracy OchesterVinyasa in Sanskrit means “to place in a special way”. In the practice of yoga, the vinyasa is a set of movements, linked with breath, that is taken in transition between postures. We move the body in a particular way, providing a seamless flow from one position to the next.

Although the vinyasa fills the space between poses and therefore might be easily overlooked, it plays a very important role in the practice. According to yogi Srivatsa Ramaswami, “Just as music without proper pitch and rhythm will not give happiness, yogasana practice without the observance of vinyasas will not give health.”

In Ashtanga yoga practice, there is one final vinyasa before taking rest. This last vinyasa is a pivotal moment. It marks the transition into savasana or corpse pose, so named because it is a releasing of all worldly attachments. The last vinyasa is the culmination of one and a half to two hours of  physical exertion and single pointed concentration, after which we let go of the body, control of the breath, and attachment to the senses.

The traditional closing mantra is recited here, wishing among other things, happiness for all beings. One can’t help but feel a reverence and sense of sacredness during the last vinyasa in these moments before surrendering body and mind to stillness and silence. This is my heartfelt intention for my own spiritual practice and for the service I offer others – that it may inspire moments of stillness and introspection; spaces between in which we may find some meaning and significance – an opportunity to uncover the innate wisdom that exists within us all.

Oṃ śānti śānti śāntihi
ॐ peace, peace, perfect peace

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