I’m always on the lookout for my next favorite teacher at Yoga Tree. Some friends recommended I try out Garrick Peters’ classes and I was instantly hooked. Not only is he a great alignment and sequencing teacher, but he has a unique style of matching movement to music that he calls “LoopFlow”.
By using music loops a few seconds in length, LoopFlow allows you to explore all the spaces between poses and allows you to intentionally reach the peak of the pose. Moving with music is very meditative.
I asked Garrick to share more about LoopFlow so we can learn more about this unique style.
Q: What is LoopFlow?
GP: LoopFlow is an approach to yoga asana that brings attention to transitions and the quality of movement between poses in a flow sequence. We can use the same awareness we use to find a safe, stable and enjoyable experience in a pose to movement itself as we flow from pose to pose, in vinyasa for example. In movement, poses are markers and the space between has its own timing, most often measured in breaths. I have seen some yogis move consciously between poses to the beat of their breath, slow and deliberate, spreading the movement across the whole breath, but this is rarely taught. So if an inhale or exhale is 5 seconds, the entire 5 seconds could be used to arrive into the pose.
In this thing I call LoopFlow, music loops are used to facilitate the timing of a slow transition between the peaks of poses in a sequence. These music loops are repeating melodies and rhythms, typically a few seconds in length, with a clear beginning and end, that guide the timing of breath and movement, and bring spirit to the quality of movement. By moving slowly, and in time with repeating loops, the yogi can hone a continuous state of focus, and drop into a deep moving meditation.
Q: What sparked the idea for Loop Flow? How did you develop it?
GP: I guess I have always had an interest in proprioception, paying attention to my body and breaking down movements into parts to better understand them. Growing up I played sports, but I especially loved basketball. For practice, I would slow down my jump shot and other moves, repeating them over and over at slow speeds, to teach my body and establish muscle memory, before building up to full speed.
In college, one of the early spiritual groups I was involved in did a moving meditation in imaginary honey, where much could be learned by slowing down or freezing movement at random points, like the kids game Red Light/Green Light.
In my yoga practice, I often move slow, sometimes brutally slow, to feel the details of the movement.
Before I found the use of music loops, I would ask students to follow a count as they moved between poses. Five years ago, I was practicing at home and the Rolling Stones song, Gimme Shelter, came on; I was suddenly flowing to the count of the intro melody. So I asked a music producer friend to clip the 8 count (two measure) melody and loop it for ten minutes. That was my first loop, and it is still one of my favorites. Now when I listen to music I have an ear for sections of songs that would make good loops, and have developed a library of over a hundred loops with different timing and musical quality that I use when I practice and teach.
Q: How do you use Loops in the context of a class?
GP: In a given practice, I find that the first time I come to a pose, I like to feel it for a few breaths to acclimate to how the pose is that day and find a sweet spot. Typically, I will build a set of poses, giving alignment queues, in the early part of the class which will become the tool set for the LoopFlow sections later in the class. Occasionally, I will use a shorter loop, called a BreathTrack, at the beginning of class to guide a continuous focus on the breath cycle, then add basic movements like sun salutations and warming flows; this way, the class can synchronize to a steady timing of breath and movement.
As a teacher, the loops offer a metronome to tune one’s flow timing.
Q: How does LoopFlow change the practice for your students (and yourself)?
GP: With LoopFlow, timing is brought to movement, where the focus on moving proprioception is heightened. In addition to timing, a good music loop can bring an inspiring spirit, the yogi can harmonize with, to shape the quality of their movement.
The use of music and music loops as a tool in yoga continues to evolve for me.
I have always felt that music can stimulate deep experiences, and in ways that are beyond our ability to fully describe.
There are some interesting neuroscience efforts now that try to explain the mechanism of how music affects our heartbeat, blood pressure, pupil dilation, and activates regions of our brain associated with bodily movement, bringing increased blood flow to the legs. It always amazes me when I see babies and toddlers respond to music with this innate sense of dance and movement. I am very interested in anything that can help us get past the repetitive looping of our thought patterns and into body, breath, and movement.
How can a yoga practice be guided with a higher probability for yogis to lose themselves in the experience and find moments of presence, joy and self awareness? I am very selective of each song or loop and its placement in my playlists, to assure the spirit and feeling add to and not distract from the practice.
In yoga, music is often used as a background filler, but it is possible to bring it more into the foreground, feel it, interact with it, be influenced by it, and build coordinated layers into the movement and breath of a yoga practice. This is especially true when working with live musicians in yoga classes; it takes a lot of skill to listen while you teach, being more concise and minimizing queuing, to get out of the way of the music so it can have its moments of taking the lead.
Q: What’s your vision for the future of LoopFlow?
GP: LoopFlow has brought so much to my own practice and teaching, and I get a lot of feedback from students that it is really appreciated. I would like to share it more by offering workshops to teachers and students, and having a resource of loops available as teaching and practice tools. The concept of LoopFlow is rather simple, but teaching it in a class requires a solid understanding of sequencing, preparing for the flow, and sensitivity to queue in the midst of the looping music.
Most of the loops I’ve been using over the years have been clipped from existing songs. I am now working with several artists making novel loops, specifically designed for LoopFlow and various applications of it. This is kind of a loop crowdsourcing effort, and I am open to additional artists reaching out to me to participate; having many styles and rhythms to draw from is ideal for keeping it fresh and meeting the unique needs of a given practice.
You can check it out in my classes; I typically weave in one or more LoopFlow sequences per class.
About Garrick Peters: Since his late teens, Garrick’s pursuit of self-knowledge led him to explore various spiritual paths that included meditation, yogic and martial arts based practices. Practicing with Garrick is playful but focused, meaningful but lighthearted, creative but consistent, challenging but respectful of the body’s anatomy and messaging.
For Garrick, living and loving mindfully, meditation, asana, and teaching yoga are all part of his personal yoga practice. Practice is the discovery and implementation of what feels good, what works, what is joyful, and what leads to a deeper and more meaningful experience of life (body, mind, and spirit).
Garrick loves community and is dedicated to bringing people together to share what inspires him, be it yoga, music, nature, or new projects that foster connecting with others.
Martine Holston believes the world needs visionaries – they propel our evolution. As a Vision Cartographer (and consultant to visionaries), she’s been featured on The Daily Love, Tiny Buddha, Mind Body Green, Live in the Grey, and Brazen Careerist.
When she’s not creating strategy maps for visionaries, Martine is zipping up and down the California coast running through vineyards, hiking through forests, and doing yoga on the beach.
To learn more about Martine and Vision Cartography, spend some time exploring visioncartography.com.