Teaching Flow versus Power: what’s the difference?

 In *from my heart, tips for teachers

These two styles look the same, so what’s the difference?

At YYoga, we make a distinction between Flow and Power.  Now, these styles are very similar and use the same kinds of poses (sun salutations, standing poses, arm balances, inversions, complex backbends).  They both derive from the Ashtanga tradition, which incorporates standing poses held for 5 breaths interposed with vinyasa.  While there is also a temperature difference for our studios (Power classes are heated), the goals of each style are actually slightly different and will prompt us to use different tools as teachers.

Because they have similar components, we can envision Flow being on one end of the spectrum, and power on another.  While we will use elements of both for our teaching, we can benefit from being clear about which side of the spectrum that we are playing with and WHY.

flow-power

 

 
 

Power Classes

  • Tools:
    • Fewer poses held longer – static
    • Ujjayi pranayama
    • More time for props, teacher demonstrations, going to the wall
  • Strength building
  • Slow, steady work
  • Focus on alignment and muscular action
  • Encourages body awareness – annamaya kosha (physical body)
  • Grounding
  • Creates tapas (transformational heat), intensity, focus, stability
  • Harnesses energy IN
  • Consequences of the style to be aware of:
    • Burning out your students in long holds
    • Impact of holding on wrists, etc.
    • Moderation of chaturangas etc. when you’re peak pose is on the hands
    • Keeping ambitious students within their means (Power students may like to push)

Flow Classes

  • Tools for Flow
    • More poses moved through more more quickly – dynamic
    • Linking poses
    • Ujjayi
  • Flexibility building (or strength in movement)
  • Smooth, almost continuous movement
  • Focus on breath and fluidity
  • Encourages breath awareness – pranaymaya kosha (breath body)
  • Flowing
  • Illuminates spanda (the divine pulsation in us – here in the breath), breath expansion, mobility
  • Expands energy OUT
  • Consequences of the style to be aware of:
    • Necessity for safe transitions when you are moving quickly
    • Newer/ stiffer students may have a hard time keeping up
    • Can’t cue as much alignment in flow when you’re cuing the breath and moving quickly

As you’re creating your class, consider:

  • What is the experience that I want to offer my students?  Stabilizing and grounding?  Or flowing and expressive?
  • Which tools can I use from each style to create this experience?
  • How can I deliver this experience being mindful of the “Consequences to be aware of?”

Happy Teaching!

 

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