Viniyoga was created and developed by T. Krishnamacharya, though its modern application and practice is often credited to his son, T.K.V. Desikachar. One way to understand Viniyoga is to look at its etymological roots; the Sanskrit word "viniyuj" (meaning "use" or "application") combined with "vini" (which loosely translates to "adaptation" or "differentiation").
So basically, Viniyoga teaches students how they can apply and use asana and other yogic traditions in a way that adapts well to their individual needs, limits, and goals. Most instructors follow set sequences of Viniyoga poses, but modifications are always performed to adapt to the yogi's physical condition and situation. Example: If you're having back pain and spinal issues, the instructor will work on you one-on-one to determine which pose modifications are ideal for your health context.
Who Can Do Viniyoga?
This is one of the types of yoga recommended for beginners because of personalized instruction and its focus on warming up the muscles before stretching them. Therefore, the immediate goal is not on building muscle strength and flexibility through stretching exercises. Rather, Viniyoga uses PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) to warm up the muscles, thus decreasing the risk of pain or injury, before you do more complex and fast-paced styles of yoga.
Benefits of Viniyoga
The benefit of Viniyoga that stands out is the personalized approach to teaching yoga. So it doesn't matter whether you're bound to a wheelchair or just coming out of an injury - you can still do Viniyoga. It is also one of the styles of yoga that can address sciatica, back pain, and other spinal health conditions.
What You Should Know
Some may have a hard time finding a qualified Viniyoga instructor because of the practice's highly adaptable take on teaching yoga postures. The teacher should have more than sufficient knowledge not just on the yoga tradition, but also on human anatomy to know which asana modifications work best with the student.