Slow Yoga Practice
I’ve been getting into a slower yoga practice lately. I’m talking tortoise of the tortoise-and-the-hare fame. Since I’m not actually in a race, though, I’m not sure my story will turn out quite as cutely as the same children’s tale. (But I’m mostly okay with that.)
Life in Slow Motion
Ever since my dad passed away, I’ve just been taking everything slowly. Now don’t get me wrong, I still get things done, but not at my usual breakneck pace. Let me assure you that this is a very strange place for me to be.
But also somewhat surprisingly wonderful.
I’ve been enjoying not living every moment in an anxious bubble, jumping to see what’s next. (Shocking, I know.)
So this slowness in my life has translated onto my yoga mat. And when I say slow, I mean s-l-o-w. We’re talking maybe five poses in an hour, with lots of just moving however I’d like in between. (Some of you may be thinking I mean that I’m doing Yin Yoga, but I’m not. Yin is definitely fabulous, but I’m moving around and seeing what feels good, not doing a passive hold to allow my body to open more.)
I’m not doing this because I don’t have the energy to do more poses. I usually have plenty of energy. Nope, I’m doing this for an entirely different reason—feeling.
When I come into a pose, it’s like honey dripping off a spoon—languid in its delicious slowness. And when I make these transitions as well as hold the poses for a good long while, I can feel everything. I have time to notice how the back of my left knee feels, or my right pinky toe, or—perhaps even more interestingly—how my energy feels: where it’s stuck and where it seems to be juicing up.
When I do a faster practice, that of course has its own benefits, but I’m rarely able to feel on a really subtle level when I’m going quickly. So it’s been delightful to do this little yoga science experiment and see what it’s like to really feel in my poses.
And wouldn’t you know it—yoga is as yoga does. The more I feel on the mat, the more I find myself being able to feel off the mat. And for me, who doesn’t have the greatest track record at staying open during difficult times, that is making all the difference.
If you ever find yourself in a difficult situation, or you’re just curious and want to give it a try, you might want to give a slow yoga practice a whirl. It’s certainly a tool I’ll be keeping around my yoga toolbox!
Thanks for this, Anna. I’ve been doing slow practice for years. Slowing down makes it so much easier to be mindful of not only the process of releasing into poses, but also the transitions into poses (which are just as important as the actual formal poses, IMO). I also enjoy the subtlety of sensation that is just not available in a faster practice.
Thank you, Charlotte! I love your point about the transitions; I definitely find that to be true for me. I find that a slow practice is such a great way to get to know your body and practice.