The dictionary defines creativity as “the use of imagination or original ideas especially in the production of artistic work”. Albert Einstein is quoted to have said “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”. Lastly, the man who coined the phrase, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, describes “flow state” as “The optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best; being completely involved in the activity for it’s own sake”.
What does any of this have to do with yoga? Sequencing a yoga class well requires creativity and intelligence. Practicing yoga calls for self-awareness to modify postures when needed, focus on breath, and listening. Vinyasa yoga is flow; the flow of breath with each movement, each asana. The flow from posture to posture. The transitions are supposed to be graceful, the practice, personally beautiful. When sequenced well, Vinyasa yoga especially, allows those practicing to experience something akin to flow state. Hopefully.
But life happens. Day to day and/or unexpected events, bad and good, interrupt the flow of imagination, creativity, meditation, and the beautiful, mental and physical flow of practicing or sequencing a Vinyasa class. When focus is lost we become clumsy in yoga class, we don’t listen to our teacher, our bodies, and we can’t shut off our brains to allow flow.
Moving past the mental noise is a intellectual practice in and of itself. The simple act of removing your shoes before entering the yoga studio can become a gesture of leaving the day outside. Setting an intention when standing in mountain pose or with hands in prayer can become your trigger, your reminder, that this is your time to connect with, to focus on, your inner Spirit. Rolling out your mat and creating your space in the studio can be a personally meaningful expression of self care. If you are already disciplined enough to park the day outside the studio, then devoting your class to someone else is certainly an option, but, for those of us with to much internal chatter, we serve those we would otherwise devote class to, by focusing inward and allowing me time.
Photograph taken at the Hubbard Glacier, Alaska