The Benefits of Flowing Yoga
By John Piller, acac Downtown Mind-Body Director
There are as many styles of yoga as there are body types and temperaments. Flowing Yoga appeals to those looking for an active practice. Flowing yoga links the body’s movements to a rhythmic breath and creates a very dynamic experience. Those new to a flowing practice often note the physical challenge it presents. Just making it through a class without taking breaks may provide an initial sense of accomplishment. It is only after one has practiced for a while, though, that the deeper benefits of the flowing yoga practice reveal themselves. The benefits are physical, mental, and spiritual.
The balancing of strength and flexibility is one of yoga’s greatest gifts. Often men need improved flexibility and women need improved strength, but most everyone needs to balance their left and right sides more completely. The sequenced poses of any class bring clear results. The spine gains increased flexibility, the core and upper body are strengthened, the hips and hamstrings open and lengthen. With increased lower body flexility and core stability one’s balance steadily improves. The inversions–shoulder stands and/or head stands–utilize all these elements–strength, flexibility, and balance–and encourage a deepening metal focus.
The simplest ways that the mind is focused in flowing yoga comes through maintaining a steady gaze and rhythmic breath. The Warrior III pose is a great example why the gaze and breath are useful. If you lose your mental focus or interrupt your breathing in this pose, you generally lose your balance as well. Seated poses offer a great opportunity for students to gain control of the breath and mind by using techniques like counting and matching the length of inhales and exhales. Whether one is standing or seated, challenged or relaxed, a steady gaze and rhythmic breath help students experience an increased sense of peace.
With a dedicated practice students relax into each posture, breathe without interruption, and keep a steady gaze. When one does not look ahead to what pose comes next and does not look back to what pose was just completed, time stills. Class passes as if in the blink of an eye. Lying down into the final posture–corpse pose–the body relaxes deeply, the breath finds its natural depth, and the space between thoughts grows longer and longer. After a few minutes lying still, one feels reborn, replenished, and ready to meet any challenge life outside the studio may present.
Checkout this time-lapse video of John doing a Vinyasa Flow yoga sequence!
Click the links below to find a yoga class at an acac location near you. All Group Exercise and Mind/Body classes are included with your acac membership!