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Flow Yoga: What is it?

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 269 views

A meditation in motion: In Flow Yoga , body, mind and breath merge into one. The yogi glides from one exercise to the next without a break and is totally focused on himself. This style of yoga focuses on experience, not technique. Flow yoga is a perfect way to switch off. Read everything you need to know about Flow Yoga here.

What is flow yoga?

Flow Yoga is derived from the physically stressed Hatha Yoga . The special feature: It is diverse, does not follow a fixed order and is based on the concept of Vinyasa. In concrete terms, this means: In flow yoga, the asanas (exercises) are arranged, placed and varied in a special way. The most famous version of this is the sun salutation.

Always in flow: One of the most important aspects of Flow Yoga is that breath and movement are connected, writes Beate Cuson in her book “Flow Yoga: Meditation in Motion”. The individual asanas are not performed statically, but are fluently connected with each other in this yoga style. A so-called flow effect occurs. Psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explained this phenomenon in more detail. For him, a flow is characterized by:

  • a perfect connection with oneself through concentration
  • physical discipline
  • the challenge is no greater than one’s abilities
  • a feeling of devotion and merging with the current doing

The goals of Flow Yoga are therefore that the “I” recede and feelings of happiness and timelessness arise.

The philosophy behind Flow Yoga

The yoga style exhausts itself from the traditional sources of yoga. These include:

  • Patanali’s Yoga Sutra
  • the Bhagavad Gita, one of the central scriptures of Hinduism
  • the basic concept of the traditional sun salutation
  • the life’s work of scholar T. Krishnamacharya

Especially T. Krishnamacharya did a lot of work in refining the asanas and their therapeutic use. He also attached great importance to a meaningful order (Vinyasa Krama). T. Krishnamacharya came up with the approach of always connecting the asanas with the breath. He thereby made it an essential part of the meditation – rather than just seeing it as a preparation.

He also emphasized the devotion and stillness of every action, as well as the spiritual importance of breathing. His guiding principle: Yoga should always be adapted to the person – and not the other way around.

Parinamavada – the flow of change

Flow is based on the idea that everything is changing. The development theory Parinamavada goes into this in more detail. Accordingly, a continuous stream of changes characterizes our existence. In flow yoga, too, the yogi is in constant change. The yogi consciously perceives every breath, every transition and every asana, practices presence, serenity and openness. All of these are important qualities to better meet everyday challenges.

The dance of the gunas – the characteristics of the asanas

Guna means quality and properties. In flow yoga, three gunas play a crucial role:

The light, clear quality of Sattva

Behind it stands the stilling of thoughts – which is also the goal in Flow Yoga.

The moving, dynamic quality of rajas

She embodies the active, stimulating force that brings about change. Rajas is the state of mind in which we are driven to action by our desires or denials. It stands for identification with our actions.

The sluggish, darkening quality of tamas

This trait has a passive, sustaining power that induces calm and brings stability. It is the state of mind that lacks clarity. The consequences: lethargy and tiredness. Tamas is also important for a relaxed sleep.

Whether sattva, rajas or tamas: none of the qualities is negative in itself. Rather, the balance between them is crucial. In relation to the asanas in flow yoga, this means:

  • Asanas are rajas in their effect, i.e. heating and stimulating, which stretch the front of the body and have to be held with a lot of strength. In the flows, it’s the powerful and dynamic sequences.
  • Asanas in which the yogi bends forward, retreats into an inversion pose, or relies on the principle of letting go are tamas, meaning calming and cooling. The yogi flows through gentle and soft flows.
  • Asanas in the sitting position are considered sattva, balancing.

This is how flow yoga works

The merging movements and the conscious connection of breath and movement require special attention. The mind gathers in the concentration on the outer and inner flow, i.e. the movement and the breath. By focusing solely on yourself, the excessive thoughts come to rest.

Vinyasa Krama

The concept of Vinyasa Krama stands for a meaningful, step-by-step structure of practice. The sequences are not fixed, but it is not a random stringing together of the asanas. Rather, they are put together with knowledge and logic. Composing the various sequences requires an intimate knowledge of the Vinyasa Krama concept and in-depth knowledge of the body, breath, energies and effects of the asanas.

With simple asanas at the beginning, the yogi arrives, finds the flow of the breath and thus gets distance from everyday life.

This is usually followed by targeted asanas and movement sequences that prepare for the more intensive flows and a climax or focus. At the end of the day, the flow leads to relaxation through neutralizing, balancing and relaxing flows.

The concept of Vinyasa Krama can also be applied to everyday life. We are able to consciously and intuitively adapt to a situation and take the right steps.

The basic concepts of flows

There is a plethora of flows that can be used. They have several basic concepts in common:

Climax

Sequences are built to lead to a climax. This requires targeted, preparatory positions and flows.

main emphasis

Sequences with a focus are another component. A focal point can be the back, for example. The abdominal muscles or the cultivation of balance are also possible. In addition, individual parts of the body are often the focus – for example the neck or the legs.

linger

When learning a flow yoga sequence for the first time, it makes sense to dwell on the individual asanas, get to know them and explore them. Even in continuous flows, it is about staying in the individual asanas and deepening them.

Rhythmic Flow

Within a longer sequence it is possible to slide back and forth between different asanas.

Flow & linger

The yogi flows in and out of the asana, warming up and relaxing, then staying in the position longer. It is about an alternation between movement and stillness, dynamics and lingering.

From short to longer sequences

Those who are just starting out usually complete shorter sequences that are easier to remember and do not require as much concentration. With more practice and experience, longer sequences are possible, which particularly challenge concentration.

Enliven the breath

Finding a connection between breath and movement is one of the most important aspects of Flow Yoga. In order to coordinate both elements, the yogi needs concentration and mindfulness. Inhaling and exhaling becomes a conscious action. For this it is important that the yogi knows his breathing. Which places move during inhalation and exhalation. Does the yogi feel it in the abdomen or in the chest? Your physical condition is reflected in your breathing: if you are overwhelmed, stressed or weak, it becomes irregular and short. The result is tension. Muscles become stiff, joints lose their space and the cardiovascular system becomes blocked. The flow of the breath no longer works. When practicing an asana, it is therefore important to let the breath flow evenly.

The dance of energies

In flow yoga, sequences are composed that have a direct influence on the energetic state and well-being. There are therefore asanas that have a heating and stimulating effect. They help the yogi to overcome fatigue, sluggishness or depressive moods. There are also sequences with a cooling and calming effect – i.e. with a so-called lunar energy. They soothe and relax.

Back to flow

It can quickly happen that the continuous flow of movement is lost. For example, focusing too much on the technicalities of execution, practicing too quickly or carelessly, or becoming habitual in a locked flow. Then it is important to keep coming back to the breath and the flow of movement.

For whom Flow Yoga is suitable

Anyone who enjoys movement can try Flow Yoga. Flowing practice is particularly valuable for people who sit a lot, move one-sidedly and are exposed to constant sensory overload. Flow Yoga can help to relieve the overwhelmed body and the stressed nervous system.

Where there are flow yoga classes

Flow yoga courses are primarily offered in yoga studios in Germany. Vinyasa Yoga , which also works with the flow principle, is more widespread than Flow Yoga in many cities .

 

 

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