As both an avid yoga practitioner and a devoted yoga teacher, I am passionate about movement and love to share the beloved practice of embodiment. Yet, if we don’t slow down our practice, there are so many other facets (philosophy, meditation, history) that will be missed during a our time on the mat.
Often, we find ourselves so caught up in doing the practice rather than simply being in practice.
In my experience, it can be difficult to explore and honor the other elements when we treat our yoga practice as if it’s simply something wellness related to check off our list. We may rush through the practice knowing it feels good but we also miss the sweet nectar of our experience if we don’t slow down our yoga practice.
In this article, we’ll explore how it’s easy to move at warp-speed when we’re on the mat and seven reasons why you should tune-in, move intentionally, and slow down your practice.
The Popularity of Yoga in Overdrive
Over the last few decades, the physical practice of yoga has gained popularity amongst health and wellness aficionados and thus, exploded into the mainstream of the westernized world. This explosion has, unfortunately, caused a bit of an erosion with the way we approach the practice.
Perhaps we squeeze in a 45-minute rigorous practice to ensure we got our “workout” in for the day. Maybe we use our devices during class instead of truly embracing the moment and being present.
It’s easy to miss the sweet nectar of our experience if we don’t slow down our yoga practice.
Or, at worst, we injure ourselves because we force something to happen instead of embracing patience and honing the skills necessary to safely and methodically explore each pose. Remember, this is a healing practice and invites patience, compassion and non-attachment.
The truth is, there is so much to gain from slowing down your practice and giving yourself the time and space to intentionally integrate the innumerable benefits that this practice provides.
Here Are 7 Reasons to Slow Down Your Practice:
Ready to take your yoga practice to the next level? Slow it down! Attunement is a powerful practice and you can learn a lot by moving more slowly. Here are seven reasons why you should slow down your practice.
1. Move from Gross to Subtle
In yoga, there is a long-held belief that we integrate ourselves as a whole, from skin to soul. In the physical practice, we refer to this as moving from the macrocosm to the microcosm or simply put, from the gross to the subtle.
Slowing down your practice helps hone that sense of deep seated awareness from the outer layers to the inner layers of your being.
Want to learn more about the many layers of our being? Read Learning Yoga Philosophy: All About Koshas, Our “Veils of Illusion”
2. Move With Intention and Precision
When we slow down, it is much easier to move with intention and precision. When we rush through something, we miss the opportunity to be super intentional and precise with our movements and our breath. Moving with intentionality only enhances your experience!
3. Maximize the Capacity of Each Breath
It goes without saying that the more tuned in you are to your breath, the stronger the connection to your body. Begin with a few rounds of slow and mindful breath work and do your best to maintain that same cadence throughout your practice.
Use These 4 Simple Breathwork Meditation Practices for a Calm Mind
4. Regulate Your Nervous System
When you slow down your practice, you inevitably deepen your breath. A slower breath pattern stimulates your relaxation response and decreases your stress response. You move away from the fight, flight or freeze reaction and move towards rest and relaxation.
5. Complement Your Practice
Many of us enjoy physically challenging classes because we like to push ourselves and maximize our time on the mat. Slower practices like yin and restorative serve as complements to these fiery practices. If you love a sweaty power yoga class, try a Yin Yoga practice as a cool down. If you are a regular at Hot yogi, give Yoga Nidra a try!
Slow Down Your Practice with this Yoga Nidra Class
This guided Yoga Nidra practice, on YA Classes, is deeply calming and great for when you need to relax, when you’re feeling stressed, or anytime you need quality y.o.u. time to slow down and tune in. Yoga Nidra means ‘yogic sleep’ and a short Yoga Nidra practice is equivalent to several hours of deep sleep! That’s what we call slowing down!
6. Build Skill and Strength
Oftentimes, slowing down your practice can actually help you hone in on what is required to achieve something with more skill and technique. If you’ve ever held Warrior II Pose for longer than a few seconds, you’ll know that moving more slowly can also build strength.
7. Improve Focus
Dharana, or single-pointed focus, is one of the central tenets of yoga and refers to the concentration of the mind. Slowing down helps us to focus on our own humbling experience with a deeper state of awareness and clarity on how we feel in each and every moment!
These Yoga Poses Help Improve Concentration (Photo Tutorial)
Slow Your Flow
Hopefully this list inspires you to take refuge in your practice and enjoy the benefits of slowing down. YouAligned founder, Ashton August, created an accessible and intentional Slow Mo Flow class on YA Classes, so feel free to check it out and incorporate these lessons into your practice.
Slow Down Your Flow with Slow Mo Flow
Get grounded, focused, and present with this slow vinyasa flow class on YA Classes, featuring YouAligned founder Ashton August. Typically vinyasa flows are fast-paced, energetic movements, but in this class, we will slow down by connecting to each move and paying attention to each part of the posture.
As always, may it be of benefit.
And we want to know: do any of these reasons motivate you to slow down your yoga practice? Share with us in the comments, we love hearing from you!