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Flow & Restore, Part 1: Flow

I’m here to talk about Flow & Restore this summer as we all could use both right about now here in the middle of 2021. (And yes this absolutely why I am offering a Flow & Restore yoga class this month – jump to the end for more.)

OK so flow & restore. This first post is about FLOW, what promotes it, and what challenges it. Read on.

Let’s consider this FLOW state. A quick google search yields the following definition of flow:

(psychology) a flow state happens when performing some activity while fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. 

Oh I like that enjoyment part of that description. So necessary. While I’m not Google, here’s my quick brain dump of what feels like flow to me:

  • Movement and challenge while I am at home with myself 
  • A calm mind, heart, spirit
  • In yoga asana, it’s skillfully linking postures together with careful attention 
  • In work, it is striking the right tempo of critical thinking, communication and productivity
  • A good walk or run outside, or a solid strength training sesh can feel like a flow
  • Authentic teamwork flows (like a strong river)
  • A young child discovering nature in new ways
  • The arts and literature when they are thoughtful, skillful and wise 
  • Anything pleasing to the ears, eyes or mind that can easily open up my heart (this includes food)
  • Tears can flow. Our blood continuously circulates. Our breath does not cease as we live.
  • A good conversation that flows into the early hours of the morning
  • Rivers and wind. Lava.

What do you think of when you consider FLOW? (Comment below!)

What stops flow? Let’s use rivers as an example. Here are some possibilities of what weakens and prohibits a river’s flow: 

  • Drought
  • Freezing temperatures
  • Barriers 

Here are some forces in our own lives that could weaken and prohibit our flow:

  • Distractions
  • Feeling locked up and afraid
  • Feeling inadequate or not worthy
  • Worrying about what others will think 
  • Picturing really horrible outcomes
  • Indecision
  • Exhausted and depleted
  • Restless
  • Self critiquing
  • Judging others
  • Judging yourself
  • Doubt
  • Disdain
  • Envy

(You know this list could go on and on.)

What stops flow for you?

The limitations that come from inside of us – our minds, perceptions and emotions can render our flow stagnant, frozen or dry. It’s not fun feeling like a stuck river. We become like a muddy, mosquito-infested mess.

But what about those forces and circumstances that we have no control over, that come from the outside, that truly are stopping our intended path? 

Look to the flowing river again. When rivers experience hindrances and blockages from the outside, they DIVERT. And when the outside world, injustices of the social, emotional, intellectual, mental, spiritual, financial, etc. kind, these obstacles that are done to us and stop our path – well, we too can DIVERT. 

We find a new direction to flow; the momentum continues, it’s just in a new way. 

Let me be clear. It’s an honest diverting we are in need of. Not the running away kind, the stuffing feelings down kind, nor the attacking anything that breaths kind.

And our new path can find resources and support from a limitless amount of places:

  • loving friends, old and new
  • therapists
  • spiritual practices
  • doing authentic inquiry about ourselves
  • doing things that open us up (yoga, creating art, celebrating, etc) and let us just simply BE

Take your time, doing your own honest internal work, and find that new path.

If you’re feeling out of flow, and it’s coming from the inside, take a pause to remember all those times when you did flow.

Remember one specific FLOW moment right now (recent or decades ago). Create a vivid mental picture of the flow moment you have had in the past.

How did you feel? What were the circumstances? What was the physical position of your body? What was your view of yourself and the world? How did you enter the flow? What did it look like, feel like, even smell like?! Use your senses.

Can this memory help you recall and recover some aspect of flow right now?

Since I am a yoga student and teacher, and movement educator I would be remiss to not gently remind you that any amount of yoga, (& physical activity that is life-giving) done consistently over time, will also help to ignite your flow. Dip a toe into that movement river!

In my next post, we will dive deep into the restorative aspects that can promote flow.

We need rest more often than we are allowing ourselves to. We will consider rest like yoga nidra, restorative yoga and play, and the powerful possibilities that it has for us.

Until then, dabble in moments of flow this week. Consider it a much needed spiritual practice to be immersed in the moment, have fun and build vitality!

Here are some ideas promote your flow this week: 

And – join my in-person Flow & Restore Special Yoga Class on July 15! It’s 75 minutes of gentle flow yoga followed by deep, restorative yoga. So good!

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