I call it momentum… It goes like this:
I made my coffee and started typing. I am typing for hours. I just keep going with it even after the coffee is done. I don’t even notice I need another one, I already forgot that I haven’t eaten all day. My phone is exploding with messages, my tap is annoyingly leaking again, I am in a great need to go to the bathroom… But none of this distracts me one bit because I’m just sitting here smashing an article in two hours, which I was procrastinating for two weeks. Just like that.
I call it momentum: everything goes into a bit of a chaos but the task in hand could’ve not gone any neater. My writing turns out exceptionally smooth and I have to grasp to these few hours of focus, that feel like few minutes, because now my work seems perfect while everything else is falling apart… And just in a moment I might lose my line of thought, if I’ll just go close the tap for example, it is all gone forever and this process will never come back to be that satisfying again. And then here I go… falling back into another procrastination hole, back to doubting whether or not I should’ve even been writing all of this in the first place, back to being hungry and thirsty and late!
Nothing changed, I just lost momentum.
A similar thing happens on our Yoga mat when we practice flow.
(Wait no, you are not meant to do Yoga while drinking coffee! Even though I won’t judge you if you do…)
Once you gained momentum in your flow: you just want to keep going. It becomes satisfying and effortless. Even if your posture is not perfect, your life is a bit pear-shaped and your Yogi-neighbour is too sweaty, you suddenly gain balance you didn’t know existed in you. You start up your engine with a bit of mindful breathing and it just keeps going, transiting smoothly from shape to shape, until your momentum is lost and you find yourself on your butt… which is also ok.
How does it work?
Your flow will gain momentum when you are one with the rhythm of your breath which means that each of your movements continues for the length of one breath (inhale or exhale). For example: inhale into reversed warrior, exhale to half-moon. (See video bellow)
It is also helpful that you choose the correct part of breath for your movement. INHALE is often uplifting and is used to prepare, or GAIN momentum for a more difficult pose (such as a balance on one leg). EXHALE is often grounding and is used to settle into a pose, or USE the momentum you’ve created with your previous inhale. This technique is particularly helpful when entering a standing balance pose (such as Garudasana, picture 3).
Once you caught the wave of momentum in your flow, using your breath correctly, your breath becomes helpful and controlled. It is no longer a distraction or just another thing you need to focus on.
At the start it all may seem chaotic: the practice moves fast, your posture looks nothing like your teacher’s and also… life is still happening. Soon enough, however, you find peace within the chaos and you allow yourself to submit to the natural rhythm of your breath, moving with your body and not against it. Don’t get me wrong: I am a big advocate for slow and controlled movement. But Yoga is also about joy and sometimes you just need to let go and allow things to move a bit faster and less ‘correctly’.
More than anything, through gaining momentum you gain TOTALITY… In Yoga, totality is far more important than perfection of posture. Being totally in the pose means that you are mindful and connected, you are not separated from your practice. While flowing with satisfaction, you probably not actually doing as well as it seems (posture-alignment-wise), all of your life troubles probably ARE serious, and no, nothing is perfectly controlled. But, perhaps for a change, you are just going with the flow, completely immersing yourself in the process.
Want to try?
Just choose few movements to flow through, it could be any two-three postures you like. If you can, experiment with entering into a pose that challenges your balance.
A good one to feel this can be: reversed warrior into half-moon, like in the short video bellow:
Or, inhale into high lunge (picture 1), exhale into airplane pose (picture 2).
You can repeat your flow slowly first, posture after posture, just to remember the sequence you chose. Then fuel up and start gaining momentum! Focus on your breath as you move in a one-breath-one-movement pace. Even if you fall just keep going, trying not to lose pace. Few attempts in you’ll see progress, if not gain a truly satisfying flow that you just want to keep repeating.
And even if your balance is still not there, I assure you that you at least won’t be thinking about your laundry or other distractions. Once you take off, you just keep going; filling the body with energy, using all of your muscles effortlessly and letting the mind go into what Yogis often call ‘moving meditation’. Hold on to this sensation for as long as you can, or until you lose momentum.
Enjoy your practice!
Loved this article and want to try this on the mat with me? Join any of my Power classes in my Prahran studio: sign up here
Want to learn more? I’ll be teaching momentum, breath and other principles of flow in my upcoming FLOW FOR BEGINNERS COURSE starting Wednesday October 17th. Check out the details and sign up here.