Merriam Webster gives several definitions for Flow. To circulate, to rise, to abound, “to proceed smoothly and readily.” One definition, I found to be particularly intriguing: “to deform under stress without cracking or rupturing –used especially of minerals and rocks.”
My sister is a geo-biologist. She’s a geologist and biologist. I usually explain her work by telling people that she studies slime. Or that she travels the world scuba diving in search of fossilized, ancient. microbial muck. She’s been amazing places and uses lots of beautiful words, like cyanobacteria, metazoans, morphologies. I’ve also heard her use the word flow from time to time.
Today, because I went to yoga this morning, flow is vinyasa. My teacher, Chia, talked about flow, about our breath, about becoming liquid, becoming a wave. Vinyasa, according to Dictionary.com is “a steady dynamic flow of connected yoga asanas linked with breathwork in a continuous movement.” This, I understood…at least, I thought I did.
I called my sister to find out what flow means to her. She told me about mountains, about the enormous amount of pressure rocks weigh upon one another. Different materials have different reactions to such pressure. Some are more brittle than others. Some will bend more than others, are more ductile or elastic. “Rocks move,” I said, “that’s pretty awesome.” “Right,” she said, “any rock under pressure is moving. You just can’t see it.” “It’s flowing!” I said. “Right,” she said, “that’s why we can see folds in layers of rock.”
The beauty of what vinyasa is slowly dawned on me. “A steady dynamic flow.” A flow inside of something massive, and strong, and unmoveable, yet slowly, gently, absolutely uninterruptably moving! This is what practice in vinyasa can bring: the ability to remain strong, to remain steady, even to build strength, all the while flowing with your breath as smoothly as a river, as gently as the molecules in warm rock moving together, being deformed, changed, stretched. Stand in mountain pose and truly be a mountain, knowing that a mountain is alive, in a constant state of flow.
Ready to learn more? Come to Vinyasa Basics: A Workshop with Pam Blair – Saturday, April 23rd at 1:30p Register Today!