For those new to Yoga, there are a bewildering array of practices. One of the more commonly seen variations on the core Yoga tradition is Flow Yoga. It’s a bit different from the standard, but if you’re looking to see if it’s right for you? Read on and we’ll help you decide if it’s an option to further explore.
So, What Exactly is Flow Yoga?
Hatha Yoga is what most people think of when the word comes to mind. It’s a slow series of poses, often held for a minute or more, and challenging the body’s flexibility and strength.
Flow Yoga, on the other hand, is quite a bit different. The focus is on smooth transitions between positions with energetic movements. It’s sped up a bit from normal Yoga and varies more than most traditional forms.
For those who are excited by ancient mysteries… there’s not a lot here. Flow Yoga is new and still developing, with no traditions in place. Most Yoga styles have standard sequences of asana, breathing patterns, and tempo in place.
Because of the novelty, those who teach Flow Yoga often bring their creativity and background to the table. Your instructor will matter more than they would normally, and two classes may have entirely different routines. Find an instructor you think you can work with early on, not everyone will mesh with each instructor’s style.
Keep in mind that not all Yoga that moves is Flow Yoga. The smooth transitions between asana can be seen in traditional movements like the Sun Salutation sequence for instance. Traditionally, these transitions are called vinyasa and they have their place in most other Yoga forms.
All vinyasa have a breathing pattern associated with them. The breath isn’t left out in the whole-body motion process in this case. These are what distinguish Flow Yoga from any other exercise, along with the emphasis on flowing motions.
Essentially: Flow Yoga is a moving form of Yoga that is designed to be done in flowing motions instead of the more traditional forms.
One other thing to note: perhaps due to being relatively young, there’s also no unifying philosophical underpinning for Flow Yoga. In some cases, it’s even been billed as just being a great workout without having to learn Yogic philosophy.
If you’re looking for a Flow Yoga class, see what it’s labeled as to get some idea of what you’re walking into. Flow Yoga covers a lot of ground, from hard exercise to very simple relaxation, and finding the right spot for you is the key to success.
What are the Benefits?
Like all forms of Yoga, the asana used in Flow Yoga helps to create flexibility and balance in the body.
More uniquely to Flow Yoga, compared to traditional forms, is an emphasis on lower body strength. Since most asanas require the legs in one way or another, it makes sense that moving between them puts a lot of tension on your legs and hips. That makes them stronger in the end.
Flow Yoga is also faster, burning more calories than the average Hatha Yoga session by a wide margin. The emphasis on movement creates an awesome fat-burning atmosphere, without requiring the practitioner to go under undue stress like Hot Yoga.
The breathing and meditation aspect shouldn’t be underestimated either. While you’re moving, the vinyasa between asana are controlled carefully by the breath. That allows a calm state to come over the Yogi, much like slower forms of Yoga.
So, you can look forward to the following:
● Increased flexibility
● Better range of motion
● Improved cardiovascular health
● Weight loss
● Better ability to manage stress
● Better balance throughout the body
The biggest difference from Hatha Yoga is the increased calorie burning. Movement burns off calories better than anything, and it can be a great accompaniment to other exercises for those looking to lose weight.
Is Flow Yoga Right for Me?
Flow Yoga may not be for everyone, especially since it requires more athletic ability than many forms of Yoga. There’s a bit more to it than just being bendy!
Flow Yoga is one of the best forms of Yoga for those who are in decent shape. Slower classes may also be good for the elderly, who will benefit greatly from an increased range of motion and a lower chance of injury.
If you’re a complete beginner, and well out of shape, it may be best to get a basis in another form of Yoga first. Hatha Yoga is often considered the foundation and starting with a few months in those classes will help ease the transition to more active Flow Yoga immensely.
Flow Yoga can be used as a supplement or the entirety of someone’s exercise routine.
In general, Flow Yoga isn’t good for those with injuries or serious joint problems. There’s less of a chance for modification and easing asana than there is in most forms. You’ll be moving quickly, which can also make it a problem for those with balance issues.
For everyone else, it’s a solid basis to form an exercise routine around. It may not hit on every need, but it’s a solid way to move and get some benefits. Even better, Flow Yoga often doesn’t feel like hard exercise once you’ve gotten a bit more advanced in the art.
It’s fun but challenging, so think over your physical condition before you dive in on this one.
Flow Into Shape
Flow Yoga is a dynamic, energetic form of exercise that can work wonders for the right people. Beginners may want to try and form a foundation elsewhere, however, particularly if they’re not athletic in the first place.
Once you get going, on the other hand, it can be hard to stop. Think of it as an awesome way to flow into the new, improved you!