Today is a workshop on vinyasa krama and flow yoga. I keep seeing flow classes described as more challenging or quicker paced but rarely if ever described as a method for increasing muscle power, improving & controlling respiration, and as a method to balance the body between stretching and stability. It makes me a bit sad that such a wonderful practice has become the “exercise” yoga practice.
Flow yoga when put together as vinyasa krama offers the body alternating extensions and flexions, rotations, and symmetry. The design should be always aware of which agonists and antagonists are being affected, and each consecutive pose in the sequence is an appropriate counter pose. If there is a goal pose or sequence then the preceding sequences or poses should prepare the body, mind and breath for the goal. The following sequences or poses are a process to insure the body, mind and breath can find a neutral, peaceful end in svasana.
Quicker paced? More challenging because of adding in tough poses? Or is it challenging because the flow design has been created to be more about flowy and pretty and the body is left feeling unbalanced, than truly vinyasa krama. Quick paced does not allow for full exchanges of inhale and exhale, nor does it bring calm awareness to body and breath. Teaching the breath holds, experiencing the bandhas, allowing the attitude of patience and calm attention is not found in quicker paced and more challenging, but in well designed poses and counter poses that bring balance, and inward reflections. This combining of breath and body experience in movement while beginning to focus inward can begin to shed light on the practice of pratyahara. As ones attention turns to the body and breath we can begin to learn the turning away from competition, I wants, and the why can’t I of emotions and thoughts. If a flow yoga class is driven by trying to keep up with a quick paced challenging sequence, what exactly are we progressing toward?