Last weekend, I joined in on Laughing Lotus’s signature sequencing workshop, called Bridge to Lotus. This article breaks down their infamous Lotus Flow.
The first time I stepped into a Lotus Flow class, it was the exact magic that I needed. I was volunteering at the Yoga Journal LIVE Conference in New York City, and I had just spent the day holding the doors for yoga celebrities. I was a bit starstruck, but also extremely restless. I found most from the cueing from the biggest names in yoga to be anatomically precise, yet at times lacking in color. It was as if the fluorescent lighting of the Hilton had washed the emotions out of each performer’s vocabulary. I was learning immensely by listening in through the doorway of the auditorium-style classrooms, but my body needed to flow.
When I finished my shift, I entered the buzzing chaos of the streets, and raced to the studio that had been recommended by a fellow teacher. My blue dot appeared to jump from one street to the next adjacent one under the skyscraper heights of the local terrain, making my commute an act of confusion. When I finally arrived to the red arrow on my map, I roamed around the block angrily trying to find the entrance. A trail of scurrying New Yorkers strapped to their mats showed me the way. I flung off my shoes, sprang onto my mat, and heaved a sigh of relief that I still had T-minus 30 seconds until class was scheduled to begin. My eyes opened wide to my wild surroundings, and all at once I became curious of where I had landed.
Mats were lined wall to colorfully-painted wall, and they seemed to expand into eternity. The mats were surrounded by a 1-inch perimeter breathing room, and the adjacent spaces of the exposed floor were scattered with snow-fallen glitter. A funky, modern rendition of a Hindu deity stared at us from the front, and our teacher waltzed in under the mural’s long nose. Unlike the cover models who formed the lineup for my conference, this man looked surprisingly like a real human being. He wore a high man bun, sported a Buddha belly, and boasted a slightly flamboyant voice. Suddenly, electro-80’s music blasted off from the stereo and we were set into flight.
As the flow began, I relived my first yoga class all over again. The poses in Lotus all had new names – like Flying Warrior, Peaceful Warrior, and Devotional Warrior – and there were some thrown into the mix that I had never even felt in my body – like OMG and Rainbow Warrior. We glided quickly from shape to shape, breaking all the rules that the alignment gods of yoga had set in stone. The flow became a dance, and the beat became the breath. Then finally, there was stillness. It was as if all the rigidity and anxiety had been shaken out of our bodies, and we were left only with collective space in the mind. We sat in meditation for a few profound moments, united by breath.
After class, I fumbled my way down the glitter-lined front hallway, searched the sea of shoes for my pair, and walked into a closet, followed by confused glances toward the front door. My actions were a bit scattered, but my yoga brain was still. Something had shifted inside this powerful practice. And just like that, I was sold.
Lotus Flow is defined by its ability to shape-shift our energy. Each class is broken down into 7 parts, which are guided by the energetic centers of our bodies. First comes centering and “puttering”, in which we begin to warm up our bodies from a state of grounding. Next, we begin to move our energy upward with Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) and a creatively-sequence Open Flow. A flow of neutral and revolved shapes follow, during which we build heat around our navel centers with twists and core-focused postures. Then, we move into heart-openers with camel, bow pose, bridge, wheel, or other backbends. Backbends are followed by constructive rest and other shapes to neutralize the spine. From here, we turn inward with seated or supine forward folds. Finally, we come into stillness with meditation and savasansa (final rest).
An energetic shift from scattered to centered can be palpable in a personal practice, but in a group the impact can be much more powerful. We feel the rise and fall of our energy collectively, and it is colored by audible breaths, a dance of ever-evolving creative postures, and, of course, glitter. Through the span of 60 minutes, Lotus Flow allows us to go on a journey that leads us to a collective sense of peace, often with a community of complete strangers. Lotus Flow may be the little bit of magic that the world needs to flow toward a coexistence of clarity, calm, and creativity.