What does it mean to flow when you are exercising???

Flow is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot when we talk about movement, but I often wonder if people really know what it means? What does it mean to be flowing in your movements and why would you even want to make that a goal during your movement practice and how would you go about it?  
 
Let’s start by talking about what exactly is “flow”?
 
I consider flow being intentional about moving from one exercise to the next and not losing concentration, engagement and focus in the “in between time” between exercises. This can be as simple as continuing to breathe and knowing how you are going to transition from one exercise from the next. In my own mind I always think of my movement time like a well choreographed dance that doesn’t stop until the song is over or in the case of Pilates when the workout is over!  For example let’s talk about transitioning from the Hundred exercise to your Roll up.  When you first learn the Hundred you might just do the exercise then rest your body on the mat when you are done( this might look like collapsing your body to a comfortable position and possibly talking to your neighbor about how much you despise the hundred!!)  and wait for the teacher to explain what you are doing next.  After the initial learning phase of the exercise you can build strength and endurance by not “resting” after that exercise and heading right into the next exercise.  After finishing the hundred exercise you might extend your legs on the mat and take 1 full breath where you set up your body to get ready to roll up.  On the very next breath you would start moving in to the rolling up of the exercise.    
 
So Flow creates muscular endurance… What’s the benefit of muscular endurance?   You wont get tired as easy!  For instance have you ever been at a stadium where you’ve had to walk up what feels like a gazillion steps to get to your seat? When you muscles have more endurance you don’t have to rest as often during your walk up those stairs! 
 
Why would you want to do that?
 
1. Flowing is more mindful and takes more concentration.  Flowing from one exercise to the next and not taking your mind off what you are doing trains or mind to be better at focusing and concentrating( and let’s face it…in today’s world of many distractions we all need that!!)
2. You’ll get double the benefits from the workout.  Yep that’s right… by simply not taking an all out rest in between each exercise you will keep your muscles engaged and working and they will get stronger quicker and you’ll gain muscular endurance.
 
***Side note…What’s the benefit of muscular endurance?   You won’t get tired as easy!  For instance have you ever been at a stadium where you’ve had to walk up what feels like a gazillion steps to get to your seat? When you muscles have more endurance you don’t have to rest as often during your walk up those stairs! 
 
 
So how can you work on adding more flow into your movement practice?
 
The easiest way in a group class setting is to make it your goal to be mindful of what you are doing in between exercises.  Even if the teacher doesn’t specifically cue a transition or something particular to do you can still make a point of noticing what you do in the in between time and being purposeful about whatever it is you are doing!  If you are practicing at home or by yourself you can practice flowing together 3 or 4 exercises at a time and see how that changes the movements for you.  
 
Ready to give it a try?  We would love to know how it goes!  Here’s a video we created specifically to practice your flow in your Pilates Mat work! 
 

in Pilates in Your Life

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