Finding Flow: Deep Listening

If you are taking one of my yoga classes you are practicing flow yoga – linking breath to movement and transitioning through poses sequenced in a special way. The Vigorous Power Flow class features an Ashtanga based flow, the YinYang Flow is a blend of classical sun salutations that work the muscles and stationary poses that bring emphasis to the joints, the Stretch and Flow class is a therapeutic flow with a different theme each week.

Now that you know you are practicing flow yoga how can you learn to access flow on multiple levels and deeply listen in a way that will allow you to find more balance off the mat as well?

In each and every class we are working at multiple levels – especially the physical body (Annamayakosha), the energy body (Pranamayakosha) and the emotional body (Manomayakosha). Yoga is the union of body, mind and spirit and the breath is the bridge that provides the critical connection to the deeper levels. Once you have this awareness you can begin to practice the art of deep listening.

It may be easier to notice the work you are doing on the physical level (Annamayakosha) as this is where transformation usually happens first and is most noticeable. We warm the muscles to facilitate flexibility and strength, build heat in the body to ignite the digestive system and improve the health of the circulatory and respiratory systems. Deeply and long held yin poses especially work the joints – bones and ligaments. You leave class feeling stronger, walking taller, more flexible.

The work at the level of the energy body (Pranamayakosha) may be less obvious to you but is critically important for accessing flow and especially deeper rivers of energy. We practice pranayama (breathing practices) in each class with emphasis on practices that compliment and enhance the physical practice. Learning to exhale to help increase awareness, three part and full yoga breathing to deepen and lengthen the breath, Ujjayi to soothe the nervous system and combined with bandhas to build heat, Kapalabhati to exercise and strengthen abdominal muscles and diaphragm, Nadi Shodana for balance and Sitali to cool. Prana is the life force subtle body of energy and yoga poses help to remove blocked energy so that the prana can flow freely. All of these practices help to deepen and enhance the experience of our internal landscape.

Beyond the energy level are the emotions (Manomayakosha) and it is here that we can begin to really notice the fluctuations of the mind and and pay attention to the those things that trigger certain moods and emotions so that we can seek out ways to find balance. Ideally we are looking for a steady flow like that of a slow moving current or the deepest parts of the ocean. Ever feel as though you have just been though an emotional whitewater rafting trip or perfect storm that tossed you like a small boat on the high seas? Through the practice of yoga, bringing attention to the breath and moving through postures you are developing the tools to help you find the ability to listen deeply, really pay attention, and find calm at every level.

In yoga classes begin to notice and allow yourself to explore the subtle body, let go of the need to focus on the physical body alone and develop a sense of curiosity that will help you learn to listen deeply.

You are your own best teacher, you are the expert, you have everything you need right this moment it is simply a matter of tapping into that amazing life force energy that is you.

Listen, really listen and see what emerges – you may be delighted to know you!