Less is more; How slower Yoga can be stronger and more satisfying.
“Let’s take it slow because some of the good things in life are worthy of reverence and appreciation. Let’s take it slow because what we have is like a cross-country ride, where all the breathtaking scenes must be breathed in and stared at with wonder. Let’s take it slow because getting to know you is like a trip to a museum where things, both wonderful and gruesome, are waiting to be discovered. Let’s take it slow because some things are best done at a leisurely pace” ― Nessie Q.,
A month ago I did a 1 hour online yoga class in which there was only about 6 basic postures. Afterwards I laughed it off as being very slow and a bit boring, so it was a surprise to me that later that day to discover some muscle soreness, indicating that I’d worked harder than I’d realised in those long slow holds.
Now while I ‘know’ that going slower often means you work harder, knowing and doing are two different things. Changing our default pace is always a challenge, “an object in motion tends to stay in motion”.
The fast paced culture of modern living while exciting can also be exhausting, amidst the rush it’s easy to lose contact with the rich subtleties of the inner world, who we are what’s important to us.
It’s easy to get locked in ‘Busy’ mode and unconsciously apply the same hurried demands on our yoga practise. A fast paced practise has it’s place but if we are acting on default rather than by design we may miss more than we gain. And theres a lot to gain from slowing down, world renowned yogi Jason Crandall lists these five virtues of a slower flow. * I’ve expanded ideas in my own words if you want original see link
1) Builds more Muscle Working ~ Moving slowly works the muscle group for longer and the whole of the muscle more thoroughly than constant movement.
2) Honour the Breath ~ When we rush we loose the connection to this vital component of our practise.
3) Balance the nervous system and mind ~ You can’t cure stress with more stress. Slowing down physically has ripple effects through the whole body/mind system.
4) Savour the journey ~ Why was it you came to yoga in the first place? Presence perhaps? The only time we can enjoy anything is right here in the moment.
5) Reduce chance of injury and deepen practise ~ Working slowly gives us time to pay attention to our alignment and respond to the sensations of our own body and breath, creating a safer and deeper experience of each pose.
Last year I was joking with my gentle goddess class that it is really the advanced class for all the above reasons. But it’s not just a joke, and I want to expand on these Ideas in a style welcoming to all, not just the fit and flexible. The slower and thorough approach can enable both new students to practise safer, and more advanced students to take the practise deeper.
When we first start yoga theres commonly a honeymoon period, everything is new, interesting and inspiring- even the difficult bits. As the novelty wears off there is a deeper challenge, to embrace the simple beauty in each moment as it is. Savouring this body this breath, day by day, through the same practices over and over, we begin cultivate a sensitivity and presence that can affect lasting changes in our lives.
Yoga offers the opportunity to deepen our relationship to ourselves, to participate in life as an experience rather than an accomplishment list.
I know sometimes as a teacher I get carried away in the vastness of yoga, Theres so much on offer it’s hard to know where to begin. Theres so much I want to share with you I sometimes rush through details that deserve more time. sometimes I forget what it’s like to be a beginner, and sometimes I forget that the journey is more important than the destination. But heres my resolution to make a commitment to the slow yoga revolution. I want our time together to be nourishing not another chore on your already too long ‘to do’ list.
The original goal of Yoga is freedom, the word ‘Yoga’ is often translated as a verb, “to connect” or “to concentrate”. In a world hungry for connection I think it’s careless to overlook these roots, to rush through our practise, our days and our lives without asking what it is that really matters? What do we find worthy of our concentration? To what do we want to feel connected?
Each of us must find the answers in our own heart, only then will we find the magic of bringing our practise to life, and our life into our practise.