Time to slow down? Or, why I love slow yoga

Sunlight glinting through a crystal
Slow down and what might you notice? (Photo credit: Stella Tomlinson)

Life is so fast.

We feel the need to pack so much into each day. We drive too quickly. We eat too quickly. We spend any spare moments checking up on emails or social networks. Our minds race. We work long hours. We’re constantly juggling different things, desperately trying to multi-task our way to whatever success means to us. And when we exercise, we might run or go spinning – we keep that fast, competitive race going.

Days, weeks, months, even years fly by almost without us noticing.

It’s no surprise that many of us have a niggling sense that something isn’t right; that we’re missing something. But too often we try to fill that gap with more stuff – more activity, more material goods.

I believe that what we’re actually missing is the present moment. Being in the here and now. And that’s why I practise, and teach, slow yoga.  

Time to slow down

I have a busy life. I talk quickly, I walk quickly, and my mind can all too easily race away thinking about a million things.

That’s why I love Dru yoga. It’s slow; it’s graceful; it’s flowing. It gives me permission to move without hurry. It allows me to gently and gradually release tension.  It allows me to be here, where I am in the present moment and encourages me to accept that place without judgment. I might be full of energy or I might be frazzled; I might be content and radiant or I might be irritable and grumpy. It’s all fine.

For me, to practise one of the many, popular, fast and dynamic forms of yoga (such as Vinyasa, Ashtanga or hot yoga) would be adding fuel to that fire.  I need to slow down!

Slow yoga allows my body to relax and my mind to let go. It invites me to gently release tension and blocked energy. It creates space for me to notice how I’m feeling and to be OK with that.  It can do that for you too.

Be here, now!

With Dru yoga your feel your body stretching; you notice which muscles are being used as you move. This slower style of yoga encourages you to practise safely as you notice the alignment of your joints. You feel your limbs moving. You really feel your spine twisting. You notice your heart rate. You feel the movement of your breath in your body.  You notice thoughts and feelings arising.

In other words, slow yoga encourages your mind to focus on the here and now. It brings you back to yourself. It gives your mind space to focus on one thing – your own body, your breath, and all the sensations you are actually feeling, NOW.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that slow yoga is better than any other style of yoga. Some people need and benefit from a higher intensity style of movement. But for me, more dynamic styles of yoga are just too fast because I have a predisposition to rush – I find it all too easy to tune out of my body and to go through the motions.

In praise of slowness

So for people, like me, who know they need to slow down, who want to connect to a slower pace of movement and connect with their bodies, minds and emotions, I think slow yoga can be really beneficial. It’s also wonderful for people who find more dynamic styles of yoga too physically demanding or intimidating.

It’s not because it’s easier though! On the face of it, slow, graceful Dru yoga may not feel like it’s working your body that much. But I find that moving more slowly actually encourages us to use your muscles more efficiently in poses. Rather than using speed and momentum to move from pose to pose, we have to really use our muscles, to use strength to balance our body. And slow stretching encourages our flexibility to increase gradually but deeply.  Slow movement demands mental focus too.

Train your brain to slow down

So retrain your body and brain to accept a more leisurely pace in a culture which seems to demand and reward speed!

Slow down and notice how you benefit. Give yourself permission to make time to let go of worries; to nurture yourself; and to relax.

Slowly begin to let go of the tensions you daily carry around in your body and expectations you carry around in your mind.

And as you go through your day you may begin to notice our posture, to breathe more deeply and to place less stress on your body. You might begin to stop getting stressed about things which previously irritated you – instead stepping back, letting go of the irritation and gaining a sense of perspective.

Learn to flow through life with a relaxed but alert body and mind.

This is why I love, teach and practise slow yoga.


Over to you

Have you ever tried Dru yoga or experienced slow yoga? What’s your take on what I’ve written about? Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear what you think.

Discover more about Dru Yoga.

What next?

If you’d like to experience the slow mindfulness of Dru Yoga then come along to one of my classes: check out my class timetable. And I’ll be starting new classes in autumn 2014 so sign up to my mailing list to be the first to hear about them.

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2 thoughts on “Time to slow down? Or, why I love slow yoga

  1. Oh! Stella, thank you, you speak so much sense and so eloquently. I’ve just been looking for things that I need to do, i.e clear away the ironing so I have got space to create a new pile of ironing :)) instead I am going to sit at the french windows and soak up the late afternoon sun.
    Ros

  2. Greetings, Stella!
    I just followed you home from a comment you left at Corrina Gordon-Barnes’ place –

    Happy to see a “name” for slow yoga (Dru yoga) – and all the reasons that it’s good for you, are reasons it would be good for me, too.
    Plus – my ‘beginner mind’ doesn’t *already know* what all the pose names mean, so it takes a beat or two to grok where your arm goes next, and what “downward-facing dog” looks like, and how to get there from where I am now!

    Now I know what to look for in the suburbs of Chicago :)

    Bright Blessings ~ Karen

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