Like many Sanskrit words, vinyāsa has many meanings; nyasa denotes "to place" and vi denotes "in a special way"; this can be interpreted to mean "breath-synchronized movement".
In today's yoga world, the term Vinyasa references a style of physical hatha yoga that is distinguished by its fluid transitions, linked with breath, following a sequence of postures; it is often referred to as a 'moving meditation'. Vinyasa yoga is a dynamic form of yoga, where the focus is connecting each breath with a movement as one flows through a series of poses.
In Vinyasa yoga, the breath is used as a tool to align the body and mind. Although Vinyasa yoga can move quickly, it does not "need" to move quickly. Vinyasa yoga can also move slow, when gifting your practice a tai chi quality of movement linked to breath. It is an inherently meditative practice, and deep focus is required to maintain strength and balance throughout the rhythmic movements. Inhalation is usually connected to upward, open movements, while exhalation is often tied to downward movements or twists; Inhale to lengthen, exhale to fold.
The beauty of Vinyasa, is that, although it has its roots in Ashtanga yoga, unlike Ashtanga, there is no rulebook or set sequence to follow, so no two classes are the same, and students flow fluidly from one posture to the next. Each class allows for creative sequencing, a fun and vibrant flow and a challenging practice.