The success of Yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships.T.K.V. Desikachar
Flow classes are based on the principle of Vinyasa – a system of movement and breath work that builds both strength and flexibility in the body.
The Vinyasa style of yoga is characterised by ‘flowing‘ from one posture to another. When done well these postures/ poses (Asanas) appear seamless as they are strung together through the harmonious use of one’s breath.
A Vinyasa yoga flow is like a well-choreographed dance – natural and fluid.
In Flow, rhythmic movement builds internal heat, moves the blood and exercises the muscles, burns impurities in the body, and through rhythm and repetition, develops clarity of mind.
Unlike some other yoga forms (eg Bikram and Ashtanga), Vinyasa classes are inherently more fluid. Whilst there is value in repetition and rhythm, Vinyasa offers a huge variety of postures.
What to expect in a Flow Yoga class
It has been said that no two Vinyasa classes are ever the same, but expect to experience the following:
Yoga is much more than the physical ‘asana’ practice. In its fullest sense yoga is a science of the mind.
Asana – the postures practiced in yoga classes – is a good place to start.
Through asana we develop physical strength, flexibility and suppleness – clearing out blocks in the body that hold us back. A healthy, strong and free body supports the mind to be healthy, strong and free.
There are numerous variations of sun salutations. No matter the style, salutes are an energising sequence of poses to generate heat in the body, and to stretch and strengthen all the major muscle groups.
The effect generally of forward bending poses is to soothe the nervous system; open the muscles and energy channels that run along the back side of the body, and to still the mind.
Heart opening/ backbending
Poses that open the front of the chest and middle/lower back are energising. They encourage an expansion of the chest cavity and respiratory system, and free up the shoulders and chest.
Twists encourage spinal mobility and tone/detoxify the digestive system and internal organs.
If you’d like to know more about how yoga may help ease some digestive ailments, see here.
Poses that drop the heart lower than the head or that raise the legs overhead, invert gravity.
These poses aid circulation, and help the flow of oxygenated blood all around the body: to your brain, sensory organs and to your face.
They support the lymphatic system and depending on the pose will either energise us or soothe the nervous system.
Given the psychological challenges of going upside down they are also great teachers – helping us to come to terms with fear, patience and humility.
Almost every yoga pose has a series of contraindications – meaning those suffering certain ailments or in certain stages of life should either practice with caution, make modifications or avoid particular poses altogether.
Communicating with your teacher about specific conditions and the status of personal injuries is key to a safe practice.
Tips for Your Yoga Class
- Come to your class with an EMPTY stomach – if you must eat something, make it light. Save your big meal for later.
- Wear comfortable stretchy clothing such as tracky daks and T shirt, leotard, etc.
- Let the teacher know if you have any new injuries, headache, menstruating, pregnant, etc.
- Try to practise yoga WITHIN your own limitations. Yoga is non-competitive (even with yourself!). Injuries can occur if you are aggressive and force yourself deeper into postures. Use your breath as a guide – if your breath is stready and smooth, your practice is right; if you are holding your breath, or it is “bumpy”, you are going too far.