Ashtanga Flow

(yeah, not the ashtanga version)

At Thai Bodyworks in Evanston, IL where I take my Thai Yoga Massage training, certain classes teach an ordered sequence of poses with transitions in between. It can be a lot to remember and we end up repeating sequences many times to learn them. The time consuming part of it is the actual treatment where you give repeated compressions and stretching poses of various styles. So when learning the sequence, we will often flow before we move on. "Flow" is a term we use to move our body into proper position, begin the compressions, but then kind of brush hands through like we’ve already done it. So you end up only spending a few seconds at each pose. It is so helpful for me to learn a sequence.

I’ve also done this with Ashtanga and Rocket Yoga. Sometimes, I don’t have time for a full practice. Most often, I’ll just shorten it and take out poses. But other times, its useful to actually go through the sequence. But instead of holding each pose for 5 breaths, you may only hold for 3. Or maybe even 2. Yes, I know the purpose of 5 breaths is to get beyond the stretch reflex. But for a nice warming and dynamic practice, the Flow is nice too.

The opposite is to stay longer in poses. I have been to workshops where we’ll hold poses for 5 minutes or more. Its more restorative type poses, but a fish or baddha konasana held that long is wonderful. Maybe do a flow, but add a 30 breath headstand. Or maybe take 10 breaths in all of the standing poses. It is a nice variation to the sometimes mundane primary series.

Change it up now and then. I know Ashtanga is a method and many are disciplined to that method. And I know Rocket seems to bastardize the method. But if you keep an open mind, maybe you’ll learn something for yourself as you explore.

Free your mind, open your heart, embrace your practice.

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