The concept of flow is a fascinating subject. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has a psychological interpretation of flow, saying that people who are deeply engaged in daily pursuits such as art, play or work can be in a state of ‘flow’, which can be very beneficial for our sense of wellbeing and fulfilment.
Basically when people are challenged and immersed in something, there is a balance between an individual’s skill level and the challenge at hand, actions naturally follow one another, and it’s a good place to be.
The physical side of flow is evident in beautiful activities like dance, which people are drawn to and moved by, even if they don’t know much about the technical side of the art.
In dance, just like in most sporting scenarios, rarely do we move in a way that resembles sets and reps, as in the basic lifts you often see at the gym where the weight is lowered in one direction, then lifted the opposite way for repetitions.
When there is flow, movement transitions are more subtle and seamless.
Somewhere in between these ‘reps’, and ‘flow’ type activities, are hitting and throwing sports such as golf, volleyball or baseball where there is a clear wind up in one direction, followed by a downswing or release in the opposite direction.
But even in these types of motions you begin to see elements of flow appearing, as the downswing is more different to the backswing than you might think. You Start to see the body make transitions with subtle changes in timing, and through various planes of motion.
Since we see flow so frequently in nature, sport and everyday life, it seems more than worthwhile to look at movement through this lens, and use it alongside other training methods we know to be beneficial.
From a physical point of view, strengthening muscles when they are loading and unloading on a constantly moving platform is very relevant to sporting scenarios, but surprisingly a training stimulus you don’t get with many traditional exercises.
It’s also a great feeling when you add new skills and overcome the physical and mental side of movement flows, especially when you build upon them and begin to improvise and bring some real creativity to your training.
We have been down to Sun Yat Sen park, the home of our upcoming Movement in the Park series, to play around with some movements and flows to share with you so you can tap into the benefits of this kind of exercise.
Over the next week or 2, we will demonstrate and film a simple ‘movement flow’, and then break it down into logical steps giving you one small movement a week via the Joint Dynamics Facebook Page. At the end of the 3 weeks you’ll be able to put it all together and take it away with you!
Flows are a great way to warm up, use as active rest between other exercises, and of course if you up the intensity, they are a great workout in themselves.