Vinyasa & The Cycle of Life

*This weekend, my family and I will lay my 92-year-old grandmother to rest. I wrote this a little over five years ago when my other grandmother passed away. Still rings true.*


One concept I teach in training is called vinyasa krama which means a logical sequencing, and it usually applies to designing yoga classes. Krishnamacharya defined vinyasa simply as a beginning, middle and end, and taught birth, life and death was the ultimate vinyasa…

With thousands of tiny vinyasas in between.

As we laid my 81-year-old grandmother to rest, I rubbed my ever-expanding belly with a growing life inside. I, at 40-years-old, was the middle. I was experiencing a beginning, middle and end all in one moment.

I wish I could tell you I appreciated the profoundness, however I could only grieve the passing of a wonderful, caring, loving woman.

I think about the little attention we pay to the cycle of life….and if we’re so blatant in our disregard for the ultimate vinyasa can we truly honor the cycle of a yoga class?

A great example of this is our avoidance of the term “corpse” as in corpse pose. In our politically correct times, in our attempts to be sensitive we gloss over it by referring to it in Sanskrit because it sounds better and prettier.

We describe it as resting, relaxation and beach pose because we don’t want people to have to think about death. Someone explained to me that corpse pose does signify a death–an ending–and upon rising out of corpse, we arise a new being.

We honor births with flowers and celebrations. We acknowledge death with eulogies and sympathy, but what do we do about the middle?

On our tombstones, the middle is represented by the dash between the date of birth and date of death– a full life summarized by one little typographical character.

We acknowledge the beginning of a class with a quiet centering and celebrate the end with relaxation and meditation. But what about the dash of your classes? Has it been boiled down to a typographical character?

My challenge to you is to make your classes (and your life!) more than a typographical character, barely remembered. Allow the middle to be as important as the beginning and end because that is truly where the richness lies.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *