I taught the first gentle flow that I genuinely felt good about the other day. I've always been desperately in love with power vinyasa- the heat, the flow, the music. It's a dance I can do, one that makes sense in my body and doesn't feel clumsy or awkward. I love the whole experience: the intensity, the rhythm, and the building of heat until you collapse into a blissfully sweaty savasana.
Gentle flow is very different. It's not even easier, per se. It requires more mental focus, more breath, and sometimes long holds and slow burns. I talk a lot about our mats being a reflection to our lives, and my aversion to gentle flow really speaks to that. As long as I keep moving, not staying stagnant, I feel good. I need to keep my body moving faster than my mind, and having to sit with discomfort is incredibly difficult for me. Because I find it so difficult, though, I know I need it in my life.
When I speak about tapas, my mind often goes to the peak of a sweaty vinyasa flow- the last few seconds of a long chair pose or the chaturanaga between side planks- but an equally powerful way of building and sitting with heat is by challenging the mind and the body to slow down. To sit with discomfort and grow from it.
I'm starting to find my groove in teaching gentle flow by practicing what I preach: seeing the value in gentleness and softness, the power in surrender. The theme for my classes today were aparigraha- nonpossesiveness. I read from a personal favorite read of mine (the Yamas and Niyamas) throughout class, speaking to the power of valuing he exhalation as much as the inhalation. Just as much as we need to take things in, we need to learn when to let them go...Like breath held too long, previously nurturing things can become toxic.
Sometimes we need gentle flow more than we need a high intensity vinyasa, and seeing the power in that truth has allowed me to become a better teacher. Softness has just as much power as strength, and is just as important in our practice as it is in our life.