Viniyoga: Get the benefit without the rectification

I started to do Yoga in the beginning of January this year. I had been wanting to for years, but I hadn’t done anything about it, in part because I dreaded going to yoga classes in a yoga center, in part because I wasn’t sure where and how would work for me.

Kovalam, India February 2007Thankfully, I found a way to practice yoga that works perfectly for me. It’s a tradition founded by Krishnamacharya. My teacher, Peter Hersnack, was educated by Krishnamacharya, as were Pattabhi Jois, founder of the Ashtanga yoga tradition, and many others of similar stature in the field. The tradition used to be called viniyoga. Not sure exactly what happened, but it’s the term I use, as it’s the only one I know.

Viniyoga is not mainstream at all, but boy is it cool.

It’s a form of yoga that’s completely tailored to you individually. Classes are only one-on-one, and my teacher puts together a 30-minute program that I do every day at home.

Kovalam, India February 2007The exercises are all centered around your breath. My teacher starts by asking me to make a few movements, so he can spot where my breath is constricted. Then he designs a set of exercises to work on those areas.

There’s no special clothes, I practice in jeans an t-shirt, no equipment apart from an old dishtowel and a stool we normally use in the kitchen. I do it on a beautiful persian rug in the living room, but when I’ve been traveling, I’ve done my yoga on the carpet of my hotel room, or just on a towel on the floor. It’s very low key that way.

Kovalam, India February 2007These days I do the program every night before I go to bed, and the half-hour is well spent, because my sleeps is always deeper and better after having done so. At other times it’s been the first thing in the morning before the rest of the family woke up, or after they’d all left the house to go to work.

Every 4-8 weeks I go back for another session where he sees where I’m at now and designs a new program. It’s a pretty cheap way to do yoga as well.

The difference it has made in my breathing and my general body awareness since I started 9 months ago is astonishing. My breath is so deep and long now, and it extends deep in my belly, but also to the back, my chest is much more open, my shoulders down. My ability to get centered and grounded in my body is amazing and very useful, say when comforting my daughter.

Kovalam, India February 2007And the daily check-in with my body has proved invaluable. Hidden pockets of emotions can’t hide for long that way. I used to never do anything besides running and biking and pushups, and I thought that was probably all I could do. My body was a vehicle for my brain. Not so anymore. It’s been surprisingly easy to gain this awareness of my body, and it’s been endlessly rewarding to bring that back in as a cornerstone of my life.

But it’s not just me. My wife recently took a lesson with Peter Hersnack, after having practicing yoga for 7 years, and she was completely blown away. So was another friend who’s a yoga instructor herself. Peter saw patterns in her that no-one else had noticed before, and designed a practice program for her.

So if you’re considering yoga, but have been put off by the traditional way of practicing it, or just want to dig one step deeper, give Peter or viniyoga a try. I’ll be happy to give you Peter’s email address, just get in touch.

UPDATE: Peter has allowed me to share his contact info. He can be reached at hersnack SNABELA gmail PUNKTUM com, or by phone at 50 197607 in Denmark.