When we flow we are balancing safety and challenge. Physically, we look to push ourselves beyond our normal range of motion and muscular effort while being mindful of our specific anatomy. Mentally, we balance a sense of safety and challenge. Safety is important because while fearful bodies can imitate poses, we can’t really relax in them until our system feels safe. When we feel cared for we breathe more deeply, release into the ground, and are open to learning. We connect to ourselves.
There are practices which focus on this sense of safety. Restorative yoga, in particular, is designed to cultivate this opening experience. Vinyasa flow is different because it’s asking us to find that sense of safety in the midst of difficulty. We are moving quickly, we are pushing our bodies, and we are practicing strange shapes. If we can do this while staying connected, these challenges help us grow, give us confidence, and bring us into the new.
So the question is: How do we do this? Practice is the first answer. The flow gets easier the more we know about ourselves and the shapes we are moving through. The second answer is mindfulness.
We are mindful when we acknowledge the contractions we are asking ourselves to go through. This makes the difficulty expected - of course this is challenging! Then, we learn to balance by watching ourselves fall. One day we push too hard and end up frazzled and disconnected at the end, the next time we finish the practice feeling like there was more there if we had ventured further out of our comfort zone. Because we are mindful, each time we fall in one direction or another, we get a little more sensitive to the balance point. We get better at meeting our own needs, just by compassionately watching ourselves make mistakes.