7 reasons to slow down your yoga practice
As an avid yoga practitioner and dedicated yoga teacher, I am passionate about movement and love to share my favorite embodiment practices. However, if we don’t slow down our practice, there are so many other aspects (philosophy, meditation, history) that we will miss during our time on the mat.
Often we find ourselves so engrossed do practice, not just being in practice.
In my experience, it can be difficult to explore and honor other elements when we treat the practice of yoga as if it’s just something related to wellness that needs to be crossed off our list. We can rush through our practice knowing it’s good, but we also miss out on the sweet nectar of our experience if we don’t slow down our yoga practice.
In this article, we’ll explore how easy it is to move at warp speed while on the mat, and share seven reasons why you should tune in, move with purpose, and slow down your workout.
Yoga’s popularity is in overdrive
Over the past few decades, the physical practice of yoga has gained popularity among health and wellness enthusiasts and thus exploded into the mainstream of the Western world. This explosion has unfortunately caused some erosion of our approach to practice.
Maybe we squeeze in 45 minutes of intense practice to get our “workout” in for the day. Maybe we’re using our devices during class instead of really taking in the moment and being present.
It’s easy to miss out on the sweet nectar of our experience if we don’t slow down our yoga practice.
Or, at worst, we hurt ourselves because we force things instead of having the patience and skills necessary to learn each pose safely and methodically. Remember that this is a healing practice that requires patience, compassion and non-attachment.
The truth is that there is much to be gained from slowing down your practice and giving yourself the time and space to intentionally integrate the countless benefits this practice provides.
Here are 7 reasons to slow down your practice:
Ready to take your yoga practice to the next level? Slow down! Tuning is a powerful practice, and you can learn a lot by taking things slower. Here are seven reasons why you should slow down your practice.
1. Go from coarse to fine
There is an ancient belief in yoga that we integrate ourselves as a whole, from skin to soul. In physical practice, we call this the transition from the macrocosm to the microcosm, or, more simply, from the gross to the subtle.
Slowing down your practice helps hone this sense of deep awareness from the outer to the inner layers of your being.
Want to learn more about the many layers of our being? Read Exploring the Philosophy of Yoga: All About the Kosha, Our ‘Veils of Illusion’
2. Move with intention and precision
When we slow down, it is much easier for us to move with intention and precision. When we rush through something, we miss the opportunity to be too intentional and precise with our movements and breathing. Deliberate movement only enhances your experience!
3. Increase the power of each breath
It goes without saying that the more attuned you are to your breath, the stronger the connection with your body. Begin with a few rounds of slow and mindful breath work and do your best to maintain the same frequency throughout the practice.
Use these 4 simple breathing meditation practices to calm your mind
4. Regulate your nervous system
As you slow down your practice, you inevitably deepen your breathing. Slower breathing stimulates your relaxation response and reduces your stress response. You move away from fight, flight or freeze responses and into rest and relaxation.
5. Supplement your practice
Many of us enjoy physically demanding activities because we like to push ourselves and maximize our time on the mat. Slower practices such as yin and restorative complement these fiery practices. If you like strong yoga, try practicing Yin yoga as a relaxation. If you are a regular at Hot yogi, try Yoga Nidra!
Slow down your practice with this yoga nidra class
with Yogi Bryan
This guided Yoga Nidra practice at YA classes is deeply calming and great for when you need to relax, feel stressed, or anytime you need time to slow down and tune in. Yoga nidra means “yogic sleep”. and a short practice of yoga nidra is equivalent to several hours of deep sleep! That’s what we call slowing down!
6. Develop skills and strength
Often times, slowing down your practice can actually help you hone in on what it takes to achieve something with greater skill and technique. If you’ve ever held a Warrior II pose for more than a few seconds, you know that slower movements can also increase strength.
7. Improve focus
Dharana, or single-pointedness, is one of the central principles of yoga and refers to the concentration of the mind. Slowing down helps us focus on our own humiliating experience with a deeper state of awareness and clarity of what we are experiencing in each moment!
These yoga poses help improve concentration (photo instructions)
Slow down your flow
I hope this list inspires you to find sanctuary in your practice and enjoy the benefits of slowing down. YouAligned’s founder, Ashton August, has created an accessible and intentional Slow Mo Flow course at YA Classes, so feel free to check it out and use these lessons in your practice.
Slow down your flow with Slow Mo Flow
with Ashton August
Get grounded, focused, and present this slow vinyasa class at YA Classes with YouAligned founder Ashton August. Usually vinyasa flows are fast, energetic movements, but in this class we will slow down, connecting with each movement and paying attention to each part of the pose.
As always, good luck with it.
And we want to know: Are any of these reasons prompting you to slow down your yoga practice? Share with us in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!