While Viniyoga is not as well known as some of the other styles, it is still quite respected amongst many in the yoga community. Vini is an ancient Sanskrit term that implies adaptation, differentiation, and appropriate application. Simply put, Viniyoga means that they adjust and adapt a practice to fit a specific persons needs instead of just applying one straightforward method on an entire group or class. The philosophy of this style of yoga is to respect where each person is at and teach them yoga based upon their present needs. In contemplating your yoga path in becoming a yoga teacher, here is what you can consider about taking a Viniyoga yoga teacher training.
Viniyoga was developed in Chennai India by TKV Desikachar, son and student of the famed Hatha guru Krishnamacharya, in the 1970s. Gary Kraftsow, and American student of TKV Desikachar, is credited for bringing the Viniyoga style westward. While it is not as infamous as say Bikram or Kripalu, it is still a well rounded and respected style of yoga that many study and practice today. In fact, many people use this style of yoga and are just not aware as it is more of a philosophy and approach that honors each student rather then teaching everyone everything in the same way and manner. Currently the major teachers and studios of Viniyoga include TKV Desikachar and Gary Kraftsow. Krishnamacharya Yoga Madram in Chennai India and the American Viniyoga Institute in Oakland CA are the main studios for this style of yoga.
Viniyoga is, according to Kraftsow, the “science of appropriate application.” Viniyoga is known for its therapeutic qualities, but contrary to popular beliefs, it is not just a therapeutic practice but a style with something for everyone. The Viniyoga practice consists of repetition in and out of asanas and and emphasizes function over form.
As mentioned above, this is not a well known or “branded” style of yoga such as Hatha, Bikram, and others. Currently less than one percent of Yoga Alliance‘s registered US yoga schools teach the Viniyoga style. But that is not to say it is not as valid as other styles, it just lacks the marketing that other styles have implemented here in the United States.
Viniyoga has found a niche with practitioners seeking therapeutic healing, and while its adaptability to any level gives it accessibility, it is not a widely practiced style. Viniyoga can be compared (in some ways) to Restorative yoga in that it really is a much more unique approach to each individuals needs rather then an entire yoga classroom.
Viniyoga teacher trainings, unlike most other yoga certification programs, have no prerequisites and require no application, meaning the program really is open to everyone. Yoga teacher trainings are structured in a way that is suitable for all levels, and seek to instruct trainees on how to teach all kinds of students. This is one of the benefits of Viniyoga not being too mainstream in that it can be more flexible with who it teaches and how they go about it. This style is best suited for those not looking to become yoga rock stars and are more interested in just deepening their practice.
Should you decide to study at the Viniyoga Institute, expect a thorough, time-tested yoga teacher training conducted by Gary Kraftsow and that is broken into four two-week sessions over the course of a year. Students who wish to move into the Viniyoga Therapist (CE) program must complete this first basic track. The Viniyoga Institute’s website offers an excellent breakdown of each training’s goals.
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