FLOW OF GRACE
I have struggled to find a name to best describe the style of Yoga that I teach. It has become an eclectic practice that draws creatively from a variety of martial disciplines. Sitting down to reflect upon what exactly drives my love of what I practice and ultimately share with my students, I came to realise that it was about the *quality* of movement.
During my time at art school in the 90’s I watched a film made by the artist Steve McQueen which has had a profound effect on me ever since. The film (Bear, 1993), set to a loop showed two men sparring in slow motion as if in some sort of tribal tango. Never had I seen the yin inside the yang captured so beautifully; a powerful, graceful, balletic, meditative dance of souls.
Years later I trained as a boxing coach, not because I wanted to teach others to fight but because I just loved moving like a boxer. I learned how to use my whole body like a whip, the power of which would literally land in my hand, to skip without making the slightest sound and to move quickly and fluidly while remaining light as a feather on my feet. The skills I learned on a mental, physical and spiritual level were vast and the training rigorous and tough.
Due to a chronic elbow injury from over over-enthusiasm on pads and punchbags, I now practice other forms of martial movement namely Kalaripayattu (Indian martial art) and Qigong, for the purpose of holistic healing. Using yoga as a framework to slow these practices down and explore the subtleties of kicks, strikes and punches has been extremely empowering whilst enabling me to retain my softness especially as I get older.
My instructional mantra in the classes I teach is to “feel the flow of grace”. This is for me the essence of my practice. To feel the flow of grace moving through my body, mind and heart is to refine the flow of qi and to cultivate the flow of shakti, but in a way that makes sense of how I move functionally, delicately, powerfully and creatively in the world.
Grace is defined as simple elegance or refinement of movement. This applies to how we handle certain situations to how our bodies move through time and space. We can all probably benefit from incorporating a little more grace into everything we do and a yoga practice that is fluid allows us to release physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually so we can receive the “blessings of grace” known as “anugraha” in sanskrit.