article by Shiva Rea
Classes are ritual sadhanas (a groove to one's self). Prana Flow classes are breath inspired journeys that offer a complete spectrum (ha-tha) of rhythms from meditative and rejuvenating to the challenging and empowering. The wave of a class is created through cycles of effective and creative sequences (vinyasas) linked together through the breathwave. Every class is well-rounded : following the mandala of the body and asanas - to create whole body transformation of strength and fluidity, circulation and centering.
The emphasis in Prana Flow sadhana is on:
Bhava or feeling mind: Bhava is a deep yogic concept that extends to all of life as the feeling state of being sometimes translated as mood that forms the inner soil from which all yoga experience arises. Bhava is a whole body experience that athletes, artists, gardners : anyone who is bringing the power of inner unification with the state the are experiencing into action. Technique without bhava is like food without taste : it is the inner state that brings trasformation and satisfaction to the flow of yoga.
Evolution: Through vinyasa krama of stages of development, peak asanas are cultivated as pathways of evolution on all levels. Classes are sequenced around the function and energy of the asana in a way that allows every student to find their developemental and emotional current that is appropriate for them that day in relation to the flow of the life. There is no hierarchy between child's pose and scorpion, reclining meditation and seated meditation.
Integration: Through multi-dimensional sequencing the mandala (wholeness) of the body is cultivated through an integration of intelligently sequenced asanas where all of the major groups of asanas - standing poses, arm balances, twists, backbends, hip openers, forwards bends and inversions - and all the major structures of the body are alchemically chosen for their relationship to a peak asana, state of transformation (rasa) or particular exploration and then integrated through a system of sequencing, related asanas and counterposes through the sutra of the breath consciousness. Chanting, visualization, chakras, marmas, and pranayama are also often integrated within asana.
Energetic Alignment: is an experiential approach to conscious inner and outer alignment that invites you to discover the natural relationships, actions and energetic flow from within your body. This approach involves accessing alignment during the flow of practice through a three-part vinyasa method that brings awareness of key actions, the movements of prana, union of opposites, and lines of energy as it relates to the awakening the inherent function and benefit of a pose. The emphasis in on the unbroken stream of internal meditation and alignment within the flow.
Collective Flow: Our orientation to a daily group vinyasa flow is not so much a class or workshop as a collective journey along the river of prana that flows within us and all around us. When I go to Kauai I love to kayak in the lush river tributaries and see the locals out paddling together in synch with their own breath-energy, with each other and most importantly the currents of the river that ultimately leads out into the open ocean. A Vinyasa class has those three dimensions that create the state of flow:
- connect fully to your experience, syncopating the waves within you (your breath, thought/emotion waves, movement and energy)
- open to the power of the group dynamic (field) while attending to your own flow. Move together. This relaxes all kinds of suffering from cynicism, self-obsession, and separation.
Yoga is the means of yoking our awareness to the deep rhythms that heal and integrate us in an age that challenges our inner compass to stay in the flow.
Common Elements of a Prana Flow Class:
Chanting and Music We always begin with universal and natural chanting of om with movement that is related to the intention of the class. Yogic chants, bija mantras are also integrated for experienced practitioners during the flow of the class. Music as a universal tool for cultivating the flow is invoked creating the experience of vinyasa as a dance of breath and rhythm.
Movement Meditation: We offer dozens of movement meditations rooted within kriya (rhythmic movement for an energetic effect). The movement meditation introduces the direction of the class through invoking movement patterns within asanas and specific energy awakenings that initiate the state of flow.
Namaskars: Sun Salutation Variation We explore over 25 namaskars or : salutations as the consummate vinyasas with their own complete energy and effect. The state of namaskar is to bow, to realize the essence whether it is the energy of the sun as in sun salutations (surya namaskar) or the moon as in moon salutations (chandra namaskar). From a base of 5 classical namaskars, I offer 20 different namaskars that have developed over the past 15 years of teaching. These are focused on different purposes for circulation, rejuvenation, multi-directional or circular movement, and honoring the elements and for women, the different Devis or Goddesses. Once beginners have integrated the basics, students have experienced the wonderful effect of the opening of new pathways within their being.
Multi-dimensional Sequencing In the main body of the class, multi-dimensional sequencing is offered to integrate standing poses, arm balances, backbends, forward bends, twists and hip openers in a effective, creative, dynamic method based upon vinyasa krama (stages of evolution), pratikriyasana (counterpose), fluid body cultivation, kosha and chakra models of integrating the body. The effect: whole being vitality cultivated with creativity and exploration that never habituates or dulls living the power of yoga.
Mudra Meditation and Pranayama Mudra meditation is offered as a way to enter into the natural, inherent state of meditation and to cultivate bhavanas (healing states of consciousness) that are related to the focus of the class. Pranayama is cultivated throughout the class as the continous flow of the breatwave and specifically at the end of class to balance and pranify the whole being.
Healing Shavasana Shavasana is the great return to home baseâ€¦the source within yourself. Often includes yoga nidra based visualization for deep relexation and healing