Actually, it hasn't always been this way.

While yoga teaching and practice is now the modern norm, historically, many styles of yoga were passed down from teacher to student individually.

So, which is better?

Well, as with most questions in life, the answer depends on who you ask and what that person’s goals are. One-to-one training is a wonderful way to learn new techniques safely and quickly. In private lessons, the teacher can tailor a program of poses and exercises to a student’s unique physical capabilities, injury history, and level of dedication and interest.

But there is definitely something special about group yoga practice.

In fact, I just finished reading a fantastic book by Steven Kotler called The Rise of Superman where he decodes the science of human performance.

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The book is all about the principal of flow, or the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity; flow is complete absorption in what you’re doing.

There are many ways to bring about flow with more consistency and strength, but Kotler says “companionship drives focus into the now – it’s arguably the simplest flow hack in the world.”

Some of the qualities Kotler says are essential to the powerful group flow dynamic are: serious concentration, blended egos, familiarity (everyone on the same page), and equal participation. He also writes about the principal of communitas or “that deep solidarity and togetherness that results from shared transcendent experiences.”

So, why do we practice yoga together?

Because it’s fun? Because it’s offered at the gym or studio in a group environment?

Because it’s cheaper that a private session? Sure. Those are all true.

But group practice makes us feel something else. Something powerful. Something we don’t get anywhere else; the feeling of group flow! Group yoga practice not only elevates our practice in the hour or so we move together; it really is our optimal state of consciousness.

If you would like to study the effects of flow, I highly recommend getting a copy of The Rise of Superman. But if you would like to actually experience the group flow benefits of yoga on a greater level, join me at one of my many weekly classes and let’s flow together.

PS: Take your group flow to the next level at my upcoming Mayacamas Ranch Yoga Retreat in March 2015. 

Carter Twitty
Carter Twitty

My vinyasa classes are firmly set in the traditions of my teacher, Sri Dharma, while incorporating the wonderful discoveries my fellow teachers and students inspire me everyday. The classes are invigorating and challenging for all levels of practice with their focus on breathing through movement, body alignment, and mental purification. My goal is to always provide my students – including you, hopefully – a refreshing way to incorporate the centuries old traditions of yoga into their modern lives.

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