My Theme: Yoga. For those of you who don't know, I've been working on obtaining my yoga teacher's certification for the past year and am just a little over a month from graduating with my RYT200. As such, I figure there's no better way to spend this month than teaching you folks some of what I've learned.
Vinyasa is a form of yoga known for dynamic movement linked with breath which has become incredibly popular in most U.S. yoga establishments. I don't have the statistics on the number of yoga establishments (including gyms, Ys and whatnot) that teach vinyasa but i'll wager is right up there with hot yoga and other very popular forms of the practice. It was created by Krishnamacharya who is often referred to as "The Father of Modern Yoga".
The primary tenants of vinyasa yoga are equal and opposite movements (meaning poses are always followed by counter-poses), flow (meaning that poses feed into one another in a particular sequence of movement) and breath (meaning that your in breath and out breath matches the movements as you go through the sequence).
Vinyasa is usually fast moving, involves somewhat challenging poses (meaning individuals with physical disabilities or injuries may have trouble with it) and stretches muscles to induce improved physical mobility, ability and muscle control.
My yoga teacher (who is training me to be a teacher) practices vinyasa and is (needless to say) incredibly talented at instructing others in it. I, on the other hand, am not. I find vinyasa to be... I don't want to say stressful because it's still yoga and the basic principles of body awareness, quiet mind and everything that makes yoga yoga are still there. But it's not my favorite form and it's not where I gravitate towards as a teacher.
My preference is yin which is much more slow moving, involves staying in a pose for a long time, stretches muscles through gravity rather than physical strength and involves significantly more quiet moments for self-reflection and self-study. Because the poses tend to be earthier there's a lot of time spent on the ground with supportive apparatus holding the body in a particular shape and are therefore able to practiced by a wider audience. There is the same emphasis on breath control (though it's more meditative) with significantly increased emphasis on self-examination (which is why I love it so much).
What has always amazed me about both of these practices (and the many other styles of yoga in general) is that they're both aimed at the same goal: achieving Vidya (another V word!) or "clear sight" meaning one's ability to perceive the world as it is without all of our mental habits getting in the way (like ego, fear of pain, etc). But they go about it in extremely different ways.
Finding the practice that works best for you is one of the primary reasons that one who is starting a yoga practice is encouraged to try out different styles. You have to find what fits.