For over a decade, yoga has been my number one way to deal with stress, and my experience of what works influences my teaching. So I teach a strong but slow Hatha yoga practice, with plenty of mindfulness, and lots of attention to micro-movements and alignment.
Here are a few reasons why I love to slow my yoga practice down and why less can be more, especially when it comes to managing stress.
Life can be stressful. Let’s give ourselves some space.
When life is busy and frantic, when we’re physically or mentally rushing from one place to another, yoga gives us an opportunity to slow down and find some space in our tense bodies and stressed out minds. This is such a tonic to our fast-paced lifestyles and reminds us that this place of peace and quiet is within us all the time, we just have to remember to access it.
We spend so much time in our minds. Let’s get into our bodies.
For most of us, our minds are very much in the driving seat and it’s easy to lose contact with our bodies, or at least to only think about our bodies when they are in pain or as something to conquer through diet and exercise. Slowing our yoga practice down helps us to reconnect with what our bodies are telling us and to love and appreciate the incredible abilities and complexities of our physical selves.
Don’t rush past difficulty. Let’s explore what’s going on there.
In a fast paced flow, we can rush past the bits that are most challenging. We probably don’t even notice ourselves doing it. But when you slow things down, even the simplest yoga pose gets interesting and challenging as we start to observe how it really feels in our body and mind. How we are in our yoga practice is often how we are in life, so slowing things down can be beautifully revealing if you’re willing to explore.
Slow is not weak. Let’s build strength with softness.
There’s a misconceived idea that a slow yoga practice is physically easy. But a slow practice with attention to alignment, can be a very effective way to build strength in our bodies. One of my teachers described this as building ‘strength by stealth’ – when we give attention to creating softness in our practice we might not notice in the moment that this is building strength, but over time it can make a big difference. Anyone who’s stayed in Warrior II for long enough will be able to tell you the strength that takes. Slow is certainly not weak.
There are lots of reasons to slow things down in our yoga practice. If you can think of others, please share them below. And in the meantime, if you fancy a dose of calm in the coming weeks do get in touch about joining a class, private yoga tuition or setting up yoga in your workplace.
Yours, in slowness,