Yoga is a traditional practice that joins the physical, mental and spiritual disciplines. Even though modern yoga is practiced worldwide, its roots are old and deep, originating from ancient India and practiced in a wide variety of schools across the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism & Jainism.
In most cases, long-established yogis believe in the advice which is delivered through the old scripts and think that it's the only truth, but in modern days, we freely come up with new ideas and research with a more open mind compared to our ancestors. Yoga itself means union. Understanding the bigger picture and feeling connected with ourselves and the universe, which is basically two different sides of the same coin.
A yogi's mind should be open and reflect on things as they are. So why not be open and integrate a rope into one's practice? Why not make use of a rope to feel connected? On the other hand, as a rope flower or any person at all, why not do yoga, feel good, and embrace a connection with everything around?
There are many ways for yoga and ropeflow to benefit from each other. Let's focus on breath, mental power, and physical exercises.
As a yogi, you always try to be aware of your breath rhythm & aerobics, and most pranayama (yogi breath work) exercises are practiced in a sitting or static position. In contrast, ropeflow allows breath practices while doing dynamic and anaerobic exercises. To be more precise, “anaerobic” is when you use up all of the oxygen in your body, while “aerobic” is focused on endurance and is on a level where you can function and last for a long time because the oxygen exchange is sufficient.
Even if you choose sun salutations (yoga endurance practice) and go for many reps and high speed, you’re still in a practice that's aerobic. Yoga is short on exercises that are highly exhausting in terms of speed. If you take a sprint, for example, you can reach anaerobic states pretty fast. This is why ropeflow is a great tool to balance and switch between aerobic and anaerobic practice - it creates a completely new way of practicing breathing.
For example, if you do a double dragon, you can link your breath to your jumps. If you speed up, you switch into an anaerobic state, if you slow down you enter aerobic areas. When thinking about athletic performance, breath work plays a big role. It's important to efficiently bring in enough oxygen into your muscles. Entering highly dynamic exercises like double dragon forces your body to function at 100% in order to keep the tempo. Ropeflowing opens the door to stepping up your breath work or pranayama practice to the next level.
At the same time, yoga/pranayama practices help you become a better ropeflow athlete. Focusing on your breath is a key to staying in rhythm and making sure you’re able to endure and flow for a long time. Breathing is something we do all the time, and everything is affected by the way we breathe. If we exhale strongly while doing a matador throw, we can generate more force. That's why tennis players shout while hitting the ball. The same can be seen with MMA fighters who breathe slowly when being grabbed and pushed to the floor in order to save energy.
To put it simply, breath affects your performance. So, next time you flow the rope, focus on your breath and see if you can link its rhythm to your moves and vice versa. You’re sure to unlock a new level of flowing.
In mental aspects, ropeflow and yoga have a lot in common as well. The idea of yoga is to feel unity and live consciously in the present moment, and a tool for achieving that is meditation. This practice allows you to enter a state when your mind becomes free. Your thoughts are replaced with a calming silence and you’re free to simply be.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who is a Hungarian psychologist, wrote a book about the state of flow. He came to the conclusion that people can enter this state at any activity, provided that kinetic energy in the form of concentration is used. This could be an intensive game of chess, reading a book, cleaning the dishes, or simply walking around. The flow state is described as a moment of pure bliss. Living in the moment and stopping your thoughts from looping and stressing you out.
It’s no surprise that ropeflow is called ropeflow. At first, you might think about flow moves that are supple and smooth, but the mental aspect of these exercises might be even more interesting than the physical. Something that you may have observed while flowing the rope is that you don’t think. All of your concentration is focused on the rope and the movements of your body, rendering your mind completely still and free. This makes ropeflow the perfect meditation tool.
Many people struggle with the term meditation, and think that the only way to achieve it and rest their mind is sitting still for hours like a monk while having trippy visions. If we listen to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, we understand that meditation or flow is something we can always create ourselves. There is no reason to stress oneself out by sitting still and trying not to think. Simply grab a rope and start flowing - your brain and mind will thank you later. And not only them - the flow state helps your body recover. That's why you feel so light and relaxed after ropeflow, meditation, or any other activity that forces you to concentrate on a single thing for a couple of minutes.
But why do you need a rope if there is an option to enter the state of flow/meditation at any given situation? The answer is simply a play of words: it’s simple. Entering the flow while washing dishes is hard, because the task itself is not fun and quite boring. You’d have to be a monk or really advanced in meditating to achieve it while doing a task like that. But the rope is different. There are many different skills and moves to learn and you can always change the level of difficulty. The rope has boundless options which provide easy transitions into a flow state for everyone.
As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote about achieving this state in his book “Flow” (2013): “The task and the skill of the person doing the task need to be in balance.”
If the level of skill is low (beginner), you need a low level of difficulty. For example: practice the figure 8 and you will easily enter a state of flow/meditation. If you try a backhand sneak, you will easily feel overwhelmed and even a tad stressed because the level of difficulty is too high. You’ll lose the state of flow and get frustrated. The same happens if you are an advanced rope flower and someone tells you to only do the propeller for 30 minutes. There’s a pretty high chance that you’ll get bored fairly quickly and lose the state of flow, especially if you’re not super creative and won’t come up with something new to transform the exercise on your own. The rope is a tool that can always be adjusted to your own skill level in order to enter flow, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or a pro.
M. Csikszentmihalyi also talks about flow being the path towards happiness. Every time you enter flow, you feel bliss and happiness. You forget about your worries and you simply enjoy the moment. The more often you enter this state, the happier you become.
But let’s look at it the other way around as well: why should a rope flower benefit from yoga & meditation? Well, ropeflow makes it obviously easy to enter the flow state. But what if you don't have a rope with you? Or you are forced to wash those darn dishes and can’t rope flow at that moment? Meditation or yoga isn’t just a practice, it’s a way of living. Don't reduce it to the moment where you hold your rope in your hands. Use the rope as a teacher that helps you enter the flow state. Then, use what you’ve learned from it and enter the flow state at will - whenever and whenever.
- Theo, aka @mindsetoftheo
A Berlin based movement coach, 300 YTT, handpan player, rope flow instructor, contact juggler, ninja warrior 2021, traveler.
“I am a mover by heart. I practice and teach various arts of movement. I focus on moving with my own body weight, which means I do things like calisthenics, breakdance, yoga, capoeira, etc… I like to get philosophical and enjoy the mental aspects of yoga. My musical/art passion is playing the handpan and practicing contact juggling. To sum everything up, you could say I am a generalist who became quite good at a variety of different topics.
You think that’s pretty cool? Well, I also teach what I’ve learned in the last decade!”