I was ecstatic last week when the blog post, “The Slow Yoga Revolution” went viral in the yoga community. Ecstatic because it made a point I’ve felt for a long time.
Modern life has an unsustainable fast pace. Busy schedules, the constant pinging of email and social media, commuting, and other demands all put immense stress on the body. This stress provokes a fight or flight response, as if you are always running away from the tiger that is chasing you.
So it has always baffled me why one would want to rush through their yoga practice. Fast-paced yoga, with the music blaring and the heat on has become the norm in Western yoga culture. And while this type of practice might have benefits, I believe yoga should be a counterbalance to the fast-paced, outwardly focused life we live.
Yoga can offer you a much-needed reprieve from a hectic lifestyle and help your nervous system rest and recover. Practice is an opportunity to bring your body, mind, and spirit into greater harmony.
Whether you are working on strength or flexibility, there are many benefits to moving slow. To increase the length of a muscle you must maintain a stretch, even if it is slightly uncomfortable, for 30-60 seconds. For better results, contract the muscle while stretching it. And increase the contraction at the end range. That will make a lasting change.
Also, since yoga is an integrated practice, strength is important too. Engagement of the muscles protects the joints and the ligaments from over stretching. Sometimes lack of flexibility is caused by a lack of strength somewhere else. For example, tight hamstrings may be a result of core instability. When you practice slower there is time to nuance the alignment, notice your weak spots, and become aware of the places you bypass. Slow yoga is more vigorous, will give you access to your deep power, and create a more sustainable practice.
I consider myself an educator. Each time you come to my class my intention is to educate and inspire you. To offer you the tools you need to empower you to transform your life. It is my hope that you walk away with a gem you can take into everything else you do.