Summer Huntington’s movements are as light and airy as her studio space. My toes wiggle into the luxuriously fuzzy rug laying in the corner of Flow Shala. We have a lot to talk about, and quickly slip into the flow of things.

Summer keeps the course sizes on the small side in order to provide more individualized attention. Photo courtesy: Flow Shala.

At Flow Shala, Summer helps people access their own “flow state” through small-group programs and online courses. She specializes in systems related to fascia, yoga and mindful movement. She unites these components with an emphasis on the physiology of flow state to create a system for wellness and stress reduction.

Flow state is when action and awareness merge and you become completely engrossed in an activity. In flow, the quality of your experience is sharpened. You likely spend most of your time in the Beta brainwaves that correlate with analytical thought and stress. In flow, you move to a Gamma brainwave-dominant state, which is associated with calm and focus.

Summer Huntington opened Flow Shala in May of 2018 in the Fountain District of Bellingham. Photo courtesy: Flow Shala.

“Through the years, I’ve found that when someone trains themselves to operate from a gamma or flow state, that’s the most positive place for them to make long-term and sustainable behavioral change,” Summer explains. “It’s a long journey, and it doesn’t happen in just one session. But you can train yourself to be in flow state often.”

Summer makes flow state accessible through her unique courses. After ten years of tutelage in body movement practices, she founded her own yoga system, which integrates flow concepts through the use of weighted clubs and tools. She believes executing yoga poses with these weights helps people to better access flow state. “A lot of people can feel disconnected in yoga, because they don’t know how to activate in a pose. With the weights, you’re getting feedback from the load. These systems are all conditioning for yoga.”

recuperative therapies at Still Life Massage
Float therapy is an increasingly popular treatment, and a great way to enhance your connection to flow state. Photo courtesy: Still Life Massage and Float.

Flow has a positive impact on movement routines, as it assures you’re not in a stress-response state. “You’d be battling elevated cortisol levels and elevated adrenaline,” Summer says. “We need to get people out of stress and overwhelm, otherwise the movements aren’t going to be as effective.”

Yoga’s efficacy is also tied to addressing fascia, the connective tissue that overlays your entire musculature system. “Stress and immobility cause fascia to become bound or constricted,” Summer explains. “That’s where you feel those areas of tightness in your back or your neck.”

The weighted clubs and maces give your body more feedback about what muscles you’re activating in a pose. Photo courtesy: Flow Shala.

She teaches body movement practices that “wring out” fascial meridians. This helps improve mobility and posture, and allows people to better access their yoga.

Summer has a deep understanding of body mechanics and brain waves, which is what makes her practice so powerful. “I just call it ‘loaded yoga,’” she says with a chuckle.

With so many factors, a progressive six-week course is the best way to absorb her curriculum. There’s a great deal of information and it takes time to put it into practice with your own body.

Summer demonstrates an activated pose with a weighted club. Photo courtesy: Flow Shala.

At Flow Shala, Summer merges the attention of personal training with group courses through high-level fitness coaching. Participants get the most from her system when they dedicate themselves to the sequential courses. Each class integrates knowledge from previous weeks. This allows participants to see the progress they’ve made in their mobility and state of mind.

Summer’s goal is for her students to feel comfortable in their body; not locked up and constricted. “People like working with this system because they feel like they have more energy,” she says. “They feel like they can activate and make a mind-muscle connection with what’s working.”

Float therapy is achieved by floating in a light and sound restricted pod of water. Photo courtesy: Sara Holodnick.

Summer recommends finding at least an hour a week to devote to a stress-reduction and self-care practice. She’s also an ambassador for Still Life Massage and Float, and utilizes their tank once a week as part of her own stress reduction practice. “I highly recommend having a day where you prioritize self-care as part of a comprehensive wellness program and I believe floating is one of the best ways,” she says.

Float tanks are like wombs, with the water set to skin temperature and the option to block out visual stimuli. Your body is suspended weightlessly in several inches of highly saturated magnesium water. For many, it makes accessing a place of quiet calm much easier.

“I feel layers of stress go away every time I get out of the float tank,” Summer says. “I think it’s a really great tool for people who maybe don’t have a meditation practice. I tell my clients about floating as one of the many portals for accessing the flow brain state.”

After all, everything’s better when you’re in the flow.

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