A slow flow vinyasa that asks you to move with more presence in action, with Prana Flow style movement to allow you to drop in with the breath. Hip opening, hamstring lengthening, and side-body stretching prepare the body for the peak pose, Hanumanasana (full splits). Balancing postures Ardha Chandrasana (Halfmoon pose) and Vrksasana (tree pose) build strength in the legs and ankles and test your ability to stay present and attune to your body and breath. This slow-moving sequence has a calming effect on the body’s nervous system to settle the mind and bring you into rest and digest mode.
Style: Slow Flow
Focus: Hip and hamstring opening, side waist lengthening, hanumanasana as the peak pose
Location: Lila Familia Production Studio, Vancouver, BC
When we move slowly, we create more opportunities to increase awareness and attune to the body and its sensations. We have the potential to align within ourselves and the present moment. When we honor moving slowly and bringing awareness to the breath in practice, hopefully, consciousness expands. Presence is a state of mind, it’s a state of being where the mind is clear, and the body is calm. Becoming present to the moment is a discipline. It takes practice and patience to be and breathe deeply.
Slow movement and deep breath help shift the body into rest and digest mode, a function of the parasympathetic nervous system. When we enter this state, we can think with more clarity and cohesion. Rest and digest is the opposite of fight or flight mode, a feature of the sympathetic nervous system. To downregulate, we activate the parasympathetic nervous system through slower-based movement, pranayama, meditation, and activities that shift the body into a relaxed state.
Prana Flow Pranayama Sequence
Start standing with your legs wider than hip-distance and your hands in Anjali mudra (prayer) at heart. Inhale for inspiration and draw in the present moment, and as you exhale, release anything you want to let go. The exhale breath represents a clearing on a mental, physical, or emotional level. The offering for this practice is to become more present with your breath. The mantra for the class to consider: May I, with this breath, become more present? May I, with this breath, feel and experience this moment in this body?
Open your practice with Prana Flow; Inhale arms wide to the side sweeping above the head, exhale hands in Anjali mudra (prayer) at the crown of the head and bring your prayer down the central channel, Sushumna (the spine). Repeat this pranayama with the arm circles and mudra. Keep your gaze soft or eyes closed as you connect to your inner landscape.
Come to stand at the top of your mat for Ujjayi breath. Soften your gaze, relax our arms, and bend your knees slightly. Ujjayi is a simple pranayam that fuels the heat of your practice. Inhaling and exhaling through the nose, gently constrict the back of the throat as you breathe. Your breath might feel like a soft purr at the back of the throat. If you can, maintain Ujjayi through the practice. Ujjayi slows the breath, cleanses the nadis (energy channels of the body), and connects the body to Prana (life force, vital energy).
Surya Namaskars (sun salutations) open your practice. Surya Namaskars connect you to your breath and slowly build heat in the body. It’s said that within the cycle of Surya Namaskar, the body becomes fully prepared for the practice as the poses lubricate the joints, build strength and flexibility, and allow full range of motion. Surya Namaskars open the shoulders, chest, and hamstrings, and strengthen the legs, back, and glutes. This variation of Surya Namaskar takes you through Balasana (child’s pose) and similar pranayama to the flowing breath at the beginning of class from the shins with arms sweeping wide as you inhale, and hands in prayer at the heart as you exhale. Slower-paced Surya Namaskar guides the body into the practice, gently increasing the heart rate and encouraging the practitioner to deepen the breath and link each movement to an inhale or exhale.