“I want to be spiritual, enlightened, and happy, but I also want Madonna arms,” a quote about Bhakti Power Flow from my spicy yet warm-hearted guru Alison Foreacre.
I’ve dabbled with yoga for nearly a decade, but it wasn’t until 2013 that I developed a strong practice. After years of long-distance running my body finally started to yell loud enough that I listened. I distinctly remember sitting on the locker room bench of Gold’s gym, my feet hurt, my back was sore, and I wasn't even close to touching my toes. I thought, “it’s time to find a yoga class.” I became a regular at Hot Yoga Tallahassee and was infatuated with the physical and mental changes I was saw in myself. But it wasn’t until I met Alison Foreacre that I found one of my greatest passions as both a student and teacher, Bhakti Power Flow.
Traditionally, yoga is about finding truths of life or a connection to a higher power. One school of thought on yoga defines 4 paths for attaining true wisdom. The idea is that every person, not just yogi, identifies with four elements; intellect (Karma Yoga), heart (Bhakti Yoga), body (Raja Yoga) and mind (Jnana Yoga). Lessons from each of these paths will help one attain this true wisdom. Bhakti yoga is considered the heart, the element of divine love and devotion. This devotion can be to whatever higher power you might believe in, it can be devotion to your family, your community, or all beings. Think, Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu, may all beings on earth be at peace, and may my actions help to bring this about.
How do you integrate this philosophy to your physical yoga practice? Enter vinyasa flow like you’ve never seen before.
Maybe I wasn’t there, but Alison never really told us what her Bhakti Power Flow was before we did it, it just happened. One moment I am in a luxurious child’s pose, and the next I am connecting my breath to the most entrancing tribal music I have ever heard. Four counts breathe in, four counts breathe out. Then we do 5 rounds of Sun Salutation A, 5 rounds of Sun Salutation B, and 5 rounds of a unique Salutation, all while maintaining the slow intentional breath. Each movement was also slow, think four counts reach toes to the sky, four counts step toes between hands, four counts lift torso. No rest between movements. Just moving and breathing, like a dance between control and surrender. Halfway through the rounds our guide faded into the background and my body moved with muscle memory. My mind was completely clear. With the slow intentional movements I felt connected to my entire body, able to adjust the tiniest muscles to remain steady and grounded through the repetitions.
I awoke from savasana, feeling as though I had a solid 8 hours of sleep, my arms were shaky and my legs were sure they'd run 7 miles. Through months of practice I developed a stronger connection to my intention (compassion for those I love, those I like, those I dislike, and those I don’t know). I developed a stronger connection to the subtle movements of my body, able notice the small shifts in energy and effort (no more yelling). I also began to take the lessons I learned on the mat, off the mat. Like, it doesn’t matter whether I hit the mark or start on the wrong side, it’s about enjoying the dance of it all.