Have you ever felt 'stuck?' It's such a broad term, 'stuckness' - and can apply to almost anything - physically (frozen shoulder?), mentally (can't solve a problem?), and emotionally (having difficulty working through feelings?). My personality is such that getting 'stuck' happens quite a bit. Luckily, I've got the aid of stitching and stretching to remind me about staying in the flow.
The Flow of Yoga
If you've looked at a variety of studio yoga class offerings, chances are you've seen a 'Flow' class, or 'Vinyasa' class. Vinyasa is a Sanskrit word, where nyasa means 'to place' and vi translates to 'in a special way.' In vinyasa yoga, the aim is to place the body in a special way, through the intention of breath. It's often translated loosely as 'flow,' and classes designated as vinyasa, or flow, are characterized by dynamic movement linked with breath through transitional poses.
I have always been attracted to vinyasa/flow classes. I have tried other types of classes like Bikram, where the same 26 static poses are practiced in a room heated to a temperature of 105 degrees, and Yin, where you are encouraged to hold poses, working joints and deep tissues rather than muscles, for up to 5 minutes at a time (in a regularly-temperatured room). While I appreciate all different types of yoga (and have been known to gravitate to Yin poses on certain days), flow classes are my favorite.
Flow's Attractiveness in Yoga
My day job, like most, is sedentary. I work at a computer, and I sit for a good portion of my day. Physically, this creates a lot of tightness and stagnation in the body. Yoga, and in particular flow yoga, encourages moving the whole body, increasing circulation, and working out the kinks. Ever heard the phrase, 'use it or lose it?' This concept can easily apply to mobility - if you don't practice moving your body, you will lose the ability to, resulting in things like decreased flexibility and restricted range of motion. Yoga, therefore, keeps the body supple, and helps to keep your body in the physical flow of life.
In addition to encouraging movement in the physical body, flow yoga also works on clogged mental capacity. Sure, call it a distraction, but if you walk into a flow class and can stop ruminating on your mental to do list for 60 minutes because you're focused on flowing with breath, I'd call that a welcome interference. The more you can practice flow on the mat, the more you can call upon flow off the mat.
Sun salutations are a perfect example of flow in yoga. Each posture is connected to the next, you move with breath, and it becomes almost like a dance. You can add different postures to sun salutations or keep the movements simple. If I can't dedicate myself to a full practice on any certain day, all I need is a couple of intentional sun salutes to get me in the flowing mindset, like in the video below.
The Flow of Stitching
We've explored, in previous posts, how stitching can be meditative due in part to its repetitive movements. There are plenty of times that I feel 'in the flow' with my stitching, so I can attest to this quality. In fact, I like to mix it up - I'll chose one pattern that is challenging, requiring lots of trial and error, followed by an easy pattern where I know how to do all the required stitches. Having just come off of a difficult knit top (new stitches to learn and techniques to try!), I chose an uncomplicated piece to tackle next. Trust me, this knit I'm working on now had all the right components to inspire getting in the meditative flow of stitching.
Knit and purl stitches, are as my IG friend says, 'the keys to the knitting kingdom.' The are the first stitches to learn when adopting knitting as a hobby. They are lovely on their own, and as they are the foundation to other stitches, can be adapted into numerous variations. So a piece that simply calls for knit and purl stitches has 'flow' written all over it, wouldn't you think?
I bought the kit for the Poplife Cardigan from Wool and the Gang because it looked so comfy, roomy - heck, flowy. I'd been knitting in size 8 needles for several projects, so I literally did a little jig when I saw that I got to jump to size 11 needles for this one! The yarn, in this case, recycled denim, is the same weight as the other yarns I was knitting on the 8's with, which means the weave of the project would be looser. Logically, I knew that in my mind, and I was eager to begin.
I'll give you a little insight into my psyche here. I like things neat, tidy (okay, okay, perfect). In knitting, this translates to goldilocks stitches - not too loose, not too tight, just right. When I find my tension on either side of 'just right,' I tend to rip the project out to begin again. But guys, this cardigan is supposed to be flowy, the stitches loose. When I completed a couple of rows of this loose knit, I wanted to rip it all out and begin again (on those size 8 needles) for tighter, neater stitches. But that's not very flowy of me, is it?
Flow's Attractiveness in Stitching
Sometimes, you have to take a new approach in order to embrace the flow. That's exactly what this cardigan is inspiring me to do. Rather than go for my normal, neat, tidy flow, I'm following a more organic, flowy flow.
I'm almost finished with the second panel of the cardigan, after which I need to add sleeves and then finish the edges with a rib collar. It is unlike anything I've ever worked on. I can barely recognize the stitches, they are so loose. But you know what? I kinda like it. I'm moving past my stuckness of needing the stitches to be perfect. I'm feeling more liberated and aligned in ease. (Trust me, even when the stitches are 'perfect,' they're not. I can find something wrong with them!) When I thought I'd be 'in the flow' with this knit, I never imagined it like this. Will I favor looser knits going forward? Maybe, but something tells me I'll need to balance them out with some goldilocks pieces too. In the meantime, I'll just focus on staying in the flow.
How do you embrace flow in your life? Do you ever find that you need to change your approach so you can flow more freely?