What does it mean to ‘flow’ in a yoga class? A leading psychologist in the 1960s, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, defined ‘flow’ as being intensely absorbed in an activity. One becomes being immersed in what they are doing which counts for more than the end result. Students who find the subject interesting are able to work in a state of flow, achieving a high level of concentration they take more interest in their studies and learn with pleasure. You have experienced this in many points in your life, while you were learning to drive or ride a bike, solving an equation, painting, sculpting, playing an instrument- there are countless examples. A rhythmic mindful yoga practice is one of them.
“A good life is one that is characterized by complete absorption in what one does” (Jeanne Nakamura). When we are flowing through life, time seems to pass us by, our mind remains clear yet concentrated, and we fall in love with what we are doing. Sheer enjoyment of the act was the principle incentive. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like in a fluid yoga practice. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.
Flow Yoga Can Make Things Better to Have a Good Life
If we are to enter into a flow, the task must monopolize all our attention and presents a challenge just perfectly balanced to match our ability. If it is too difficult, tension sets in, followed by anxiety; if the practice is too easy, we quickly relax, anticipate the next movement and are soon bored. In a private yoga setting your teacher understands your capacities and respects your limits, able to guide you to your threshold where is it challenging yet still enjoyable, familiar but not boring. In most cases this graceful balance is felt as an optimal experience with a great sense of satisfaction. The mind is both focused and at ease, this fluidity produced a sense of serene joy.
In Beginners Yoga we first come in contact with this flow, synchronizing our breath with each movement, we lose our concept of self image, we feel connected to our energy and feel absorbed in the practice. With yoga we come to realize that all of us are the same at our innermost layer, this expands our openness and makes us feel connected in the world. When we connect with our purest energy it becomes a source of inner peace and vitality.
A meditation that you can practice is to cultivate a feeling of ‘open presence’. Sit in a comfortable position, either on the floor or a chair. Keep your back straight and tall and try to keep still and feel calm. Make your mind be vast as the sky, feel an expansion in your awareness and an openness from your heart. Let your mind remain free from mental constructs; clear, vivid and all pervading. Maintain an alertness whilst feeling relaxed, flow in your meditation, be fully immersed with the present moment, mental clarity and emotional openness that this meditation brings.