5 Qs with Annie Carpenter: SmartFlow yoga, more than asana, and acceptance [vid]
1. You’ve coined the term SmartFlow yoga. What does it mean to you and why did you come up with it?
Smart refers to 3 things: having an intention that is specific and clear; creating a sequence that can move one towards that intention (and this refers to a sequence of poses inside of a single practice, but also yogic practices chosen over time), and using languaging and timing that place the practitioner in the mindset for dharana (concentration) towards that intention. FLOW is movement, connection and play that are essentials for keeping our practice creative and alive.
2. My mentor and good friend Swami Maheshananda Saraswati’s biggest concern about yoga today is the focus on asana. You reference this, too, in your bio. Can you elaborate on that?
Most of us come to yoga via asana —which is a good thing! Happily, most of us do find the other limbs of yoga eventually. Even if what we want is fitness, we get mindfulness, self-awareness and inner peace. So we keep moving in that direction —over time— and embrace lifestyle choices and the meditative practices, too. I am hopeful that yogis are embracing all that yoga can offer.
3. You also mention identifying with Martha Graham’s vision of the moving body as an expression of the soul. Can you talk about that a bit more?
In yoga we observe the expression of the “self” so that we can know that we are really an expression of the universal “Self.” We discipline the body and the mind, so that we can liberate the soul. We come to terms with what is ever-changing, so we may know what is eternal. Martha inspired us (her dancers), to seek the universal truth, to be (sometimes brutally!) honest, and to move with the breath. She acknowledged yoga as a great source for her, and if you learn her technique and watch her choreography you will see that.
4. How are dance and yoga related for you?
Tools for awareness.
5. If you could tell a studio full of 1000 students just one thing what would it be?
PRACTICE; and let go of goals. Love and forgive unconditionally. Accept what is.