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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Bringing the Personal Touch to Yoga

Jun 30, 2016 02:44PM

A Spotlight on Vinaya

by Sam Hudgins
Too often in Western culture, self-transformation is shown as something that occurs from the outside in—think reality makeover shows. Vinaya Saunders knows true, effective transformation actually comes from making changes within oneself. “We are just a physical reflection of the end, but everything starts with how our mind is and what we eventually experience.” To help others truly makeover themselves through inner changes, Vinaya opened Vinayam, an in-home yoga studio where she is “very passionate about awakening people.”

Vinaya’s studio shares its name with the yoga style she founded and teaches. Vinayam is a very spiritual yoga that fuses the physicality of Western yoga and the mindfulness of Eastern yoga. The name Vinayam means “humble approach to yoga.” Vinayam is complete shift in perspective toward yoga from physical aspects to mindfulness and spiritual growth. Vinaya practices and teaches Rajayoga meditation in corporate settings like Intelsat and National American Education in D.C. In coordination with the yoga and meditation she teaches, Vinaya combines ayurvedic diet counseling and healing into her client sessions. She is specialized in working with clients with traumatic brain injuries and epilepsy.

Vinaya teaches in homes to allow clients the luxury of learning in a place where they are comfortable and to reduce their potential for stress. While she is based out of Leesburg, Vinaya will travel to Washington, D.C. and parts of Montgomery County, Maryland to teach. She also teaches in home to keep things one-on-one, exactly like how yoga was meant to be taught, as group classes can dilute a teacher’s focus. For instance, working with individuals allows her to choose poses that are appropriate for a client’s specific body type and ability.

While Vinaya prefers the connection of individual teaching, in addition to her corporate yoga classes, she is a federal contractor, teaching in places such as the Department of Justice, Department of Energy because “they really, really need to relax.” She also shares her yoga through community events, most recently participating in the Love Your Body Yoga Festival, which took place in Reston.

For those interested in the healing aspect Vinaya offers, she now has an integrative energy therapy studio in Reston. Energy therapy clears out the emotional baggage most humans are unaware they are even carrying. As Vinaya puts it “[energy healing] helps you move on and live life.”

Vinaya has also expanded her focus to include prenatal yoga and prenatal ayurvedic diet. She became interested in assisting prenatal women and empowering them when she herself was pregnant. She felt as though there was little support for pregnant women in the United States, and that traditional doctor’s appointments were more about finding something wrong than with teaching how to take care of her body and growing child. Now Vinaya has her doula certification, prenatal yoga certification and is pursuing a master’s degree in prenatal ayurvedic obstetrics.

In September, Vinaya will be traveling back to her home country of India to open a yoga school with her sister. In her view, yoga teacher training offered is less focused on self-transformation and is more about producing fancy teachers with certification. In her words “The nature of yoga is to shine the light of awareness into darkest corners of the body. It is journey of the self, through the self, to the self. Self-transformation is world transformation.” Though the school does not currently have a location, they are hoping to set up on the beach. The yoga practiced there will be Vinayam and it is Vinaya’s hope that it will be a destination for yoginis all over the world to learn and in turn transform the world for the better. “You can’t help someone else get out of the ditch until you have pulled yourself out.”

For more information and to schedule a one-on-one yoga session visit or call 571-488-2522. Vinaya’s integrative energy therapy studio is located at 1801 Robert Fulton Dr., Ste. 230 A, in Reston. Sign up for monthlong intensive yoga teacher training running September 2016 through March 2017 at

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