I just want to preface this by saying I LOVE yoga. Truly, it is one of the most delightful things you can do at the gym—especially the part where you just get to lie unmoving on your back like a dead body and nobody thinks you’re being lazy.
But in my on-again, off-again yoga practice over the course of 12 years, I’ve come to recognize that much like brunch, flow yoga is overrated, dumb, and literal hot trash. Nonflow yoga, on the other hand, is literal pure treasure. (No YOU’RE being hyperbolic!) Let’s get into it.
5 Reasons (out of like 5,000,000 probably) Why Flow Yoga Is the Worst*
- You’re expected to MEMORIZE moves. During yoga flow classes, the teacher shows you a sequence of poses to do, and then just stops leading the class. Why? Because you’re somehow expected to remember the sequence and keep repeating it over and over again on your own. What am I, an actor? No! And that’s purely because memorizing things is hard, not because Tyler got cast as Puck in our high school rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream even though Tyler didn’t end his monologue with a jaunty bow and sassy hand flourish.
- The instructor is like a substitute teacher on the last day before spring break. Sure, they’re present, but are they really doing anything besides making sure you don’t break any bones? They do a quick demo of the sequence and that’s that (at least that's how it feels). I need someone who will not leave me to my own devices because I WILL be cheating off my peers, staring at them to see what part of the sequence we’re in because I’m totally lost and need to copy someone so I don’t fail.
- You might as well be practicing on a Slip N Slide. So many flow yoga classes are heated to a balmy 100+ degrees F and that may feel nice on your bones, but do you know how hard it is to do down dog while your hands and feet slowly slide away? It’s very hard. And sure, you can get some grippy yoga socks that will help a lot, but can you get some yoga gloves? (Seriously, I’m asking because I don’t think this is a thing, and it seems like a good idea. I call copyright on that.)
- You won’t build any muscle. Is this true? Probably not! After all, a classic flow yoga sequence involves moving from a tortuous plank into a low push up and then back up again. The people in the pockets of Big Yoga claim it’s a good workout. But in a nonflow class, you’re most likely holding that plank for a longer period of time, building up those sweet, sweet obliques. If I’m going to make the effort to work out, I should probably get some nice obliques out of the deal.
- “All-level class” = a pack of lies. I’ve seen flow classes billed as welcoming to all levels. However, if you’re a beginner, it can be challenging to quickly flow from one pose to the next without a teacher leading you step-by-step. You might vaguely remember that you’re supposed to be in a lunge position, but what are you doing with your arms? And sure, you could do what you do at work or with your kids and just pretend to know what you’re doing, but it’s even more obvious that you don’t in a yoga setting, when you’re in down dog and everyone else is flawlessly executing some Lord of the Dance.
In conclusion, nonflow yoga classes are the best. I mean, sure, the nonflow yoga class that I truly loved at my gym was billed as a CorePower Yoga class and that IS traditionally a flow class, but my teacher led us through everything AND managed to walk around while we held poses to help realign our posture. She was a saint. And she taught me how to do a headstand even though I’m an adult now and experience a healthy fear of breaking my brain. Nonflow yoga for the win, thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Groupon. Groupon thinks that flow yoga is a perfectly lovely practice for those who want to meditatively flow from one pose to the next, connecting their breath to their movement while getting in a good workout. Groupon also thinks that it is important to find a good yoga teacher you connect with as they all lead classes slightly differently.