Flow Through Movement: Transform Your Yoga Practice Forever
Being in the flow, reaching a flow state, going with the flow: what does that really mean? Everybody uses the word ‘flow’, what is it? How would give words to that state of being? And how can you reach flow-state?
What is flow?
When I started to do qigong, I raised my energetic awareness. (Qigong is an ancient Chinese practice that literally means: The Art of Energy). I began to feel when my energy was flowing and when it wasn’t. That awareness made choose my teachers wisely: I used it as a guide to go to certain dance or yoga classes and to avoid others. If I have the feeling that I can’t maintain or enhance my energy flow in a class, I prefer doing my home practice to going to a class. By following that guidance I found the most amazing teachers on my path, that helped to deepen my understanding of flow.
In this article, I will focus on yoga asana practice, but you can apply the same principle to any workout or movement modality.
I chose my teachers on only one question: “Can I do this class while being ‘in flow’?"
And so I came across Jess Kamell, and her teachers Tara Judelle & Scott Lyons. Tara & Scott have developed a beautiful methodology called Embodied Flow™. In Embodied Flow™ yoga classes attention is being brought to the energy flow in the body, what allows you to make adjustments from the inside out.
Let me nuance the understanding of Energy Flow.
In energy arts, such as Qigong, you are working directly on the energy level. That is a different kind of ‘energy flow’ than I experience in yoga, which focusses primarily on Body and Mind. Still, energy flow is always happening, and adding the sensitivity to the pathway of energy within the practice is essential to practice healthily. When I do a yoga class with energetic sensitivity and deep body awareness, I feel energized and clear after the class. When I do a yoga class that focusses on forms, muscular tension, I feel drained and fuzzy after a class.
TIP: Check in with yourself after your practice how you feel, what quality you experience in your body, how your mind is after class. Do you feel energized or drained? And see if you can find out what made you feel that way.
Injuries in Yoga
It is no secret that people get injured in yoga classes. In my experience, the biggest reason for this is that the emphasis in practice is on making shapes with the bodies; copying poses. Although there is an awareness in movement in a yoga class, still there is too little emphasis on the energetic experience in practice.
When I teach, I still see a lot of people in classes that hold on to poses, trying to make the shape it ‘should be,’ and therefore pulling their bodies completely out of their natural alignment, wherefore the energy flow gets blocked. Your body has an innate intelligence, but when we overrule it with our thinking mind and are not sensitive to its signals, it cannot do its thing.
Sometimes, when I want to improve the pose by adjusting the persons’ body to restore the energy flow, people react resistant. As if it is something that they are doing ‘wrong’, trying to keep up the more advanced version of the pose. But WHY? It should never be the focus of doing yoga. It is not in line with what yoga is meant to do to you: to enhance your health, your energy levels, and your happiness. When you are persistent (with all the right intention of course) in practicing ‘to do poses perfectly,’ a yoga injury is inevitable. Therefore I am passionate about shifting the focus in yoga practice.
Start your practice with getting into Flow State
What I do more and more is lead people into a flow state at the beginning of the class, with playful, free-movement moments in the practice, where I encourage them to feel inside their bodies, instead of thinking of any outer form or shape. And it is amazing how it changes the quality of movement and the energy in the class.
As I learned in contemporary dance, somatic movement practices, and Embodied Flow™, it helps the body to not only bring awareness to muscular activity (as most yoga and workouts do) but to tune in to all ‘systems’ in your body. What if you move from your bones? And how can you feel the supportive quality of your organs? What information flows through the body through the touch that is perceived through your skin?
How to reach a state of inner flow
Awakening your energetic awareness, bringing attention to your whole 3D body/mind with all its different layers, is what brings you into a flow state. The overactive thinking mind automatically shuts down, and you find your self in a state of being where you can do more than you ever expected, and where you can things flow easily.
Your Inner world reflects your Outer world
Last but not least, you can experience flow state within the body, and if you do, it will translate into your daily life as well. Your inner and outer world are connected. When you feel at home in your body, and can bring your body mind and energy into flow-state, things in the outer world will respond to that.
Have you experienced being in the flow before? And how would you describe it?
Let me know in the comments!