Nothing beats that feeling when you find your flow in yoga. You’re moving seamlessly from pose to pose, you’re remembering to breath, you feel strong. The rest of the room is a soft blur, you are in the zone.
Then the teacher throws a curve ball and asks you to slow it down. Suddenly you’ve lost your groove. Poses are wobbly, you’re panting like a maniac and just can’t seem to keep your balance. What the…?
A common misconception is that “slow” means easy. Try lowering in plank for 10 counts, sitting in traffic when you’re in a rush, teaching your kids how to tie shoelaces. Slow is definitely not easy.
The key to slow is finding your flow through balance and control, not momentum, in all areas of life.
Most people are living life in the fast lane, which is great when you need to hustle, but maintaining this level long term isn’t good for you. Stress, instability and harmful repetition will eventually take it’s toll.
Think of it in terms of getting sick – if we try to push through the illness eventually we just make ourselves worse and the body crashes in a big way. But take the day off, have the homemade chicken soup and a good rest and your body will thank you for it. Sometimes you have to pull back a little and learn to stabilise in your space in order to move forward.
Now try applying this to your practice. You can fly through your chaturangas using momentum and your rotator cuff to carry you, but eventually your shoulder will break down. Or, take the time to slowly build complete upper body strength & technique, and soon the flow will come naturally, speed too. It’s either technique now or physiotherapy later…I know which I’d prefer.
You remember the story of the tortoise and the hare right – “Slow and steady wins the race.” We teach that message to kids and then proceed to speed through life as adults. Although we also teach them that winning doesn’t matter, but we’ll save the ‘ego’ conversation for another day.
As the saying goes, you need to walk before you can run. So whilst I’m not suggesting you live life at snails pace, it is important to find control and balance in life if you want to ensure longevity and avoid burnout either of the body or mind.
This is another reason to veer over to the “slow lane”.
We live our lives at high speed, rush to our yoga class for our hour of connecting, fly through our sequences, take 5 breaths in savasana and then dash out the door to resume the race. Sometimes it’s just too hard to break this cycle, even when we take steps to better our health, our minds aren’t ready for it.
It’s why people initially resist a yin class, thinking it’s just not going to give them the workout they want. Until they finally take a class, have that “ah ha” moment and realise it’s in fact exactly what they needed.
So if longevity in both mind and body is the goal, then perhaps it’s worth addressing the level of balance in your life. Are you giving yourself enough pause? Taking it slow for a period forces you to focus on breath and space, which is what makes the challenge so real for most. It’s not just challenging for the body, but difficult for many to truly slow down and let go of the mind. You don’t have the busyness of a fast pace to distract you and your thoughts, only your breath to guide you. This combination of pace and breath results in a conscious or “meditative” element to your movements, very much like a moving meditation.
The bonus of “slow” is that it’s not just a challenge to get to a goal, but it forces you to take notice of everything along the way. Much like a mindfulness practice. Sure, you may start small, short moments of mindulness throughout your day, but essentially you’re building towards longer practices and eventually living a more mindful life. If your intention is to bring complete awareness to a 10 minute meditation practice and then zone out for the rest of your day, there seems little point.
Similarly, why take so much care perfecting your technique in Warrior II if you don’t care about how you get there. Bring complete awareness, or mindfulness, into your entire practice and you’ll begin to enjoy your transitions as much as the “pose”. Flip dog will become less about the satisfaction of “flipping your dog” and more about the amazing opening & strength that you feel as you move in a controlled and easeful way.
The best bit is that this conscious flow allows you to make progress safely, and strengthen in such a way that will translate into the full scope of your practice. With a focus on stabilising, controlled movement, balance, strength and awareness, you can begin to feel liberated and confident to take your practice to a new level. Also, take the lessons you learn on the mat out into your world and your life may also begin to flow.
Kula is introducing two new Slow Flow classes to their timetable ~ join Emily at 11am on Tuesdays and Andy at 4.30pm on Thursdays.
About the author: Andy Broadbear is a qualified yoga therapist & teacher, who specialises in pre + postnatal yoga. She is also co-founder of YogaMamas, health & wellness blogger, hobby photographer and busy mama of 3!
Kula Yoga has a beautiful hot yoga studio on Camberwell Rd, Hawthorn, Melbourne. Kula offers ‘Hot Yoga’ classes for detoxification, dynamic power yoga ‘Flow Yoga’ as well as a gentle ‘Light Yin Yoga’ option. Beginners through to advanced students are welcome to all classes. Kula also provides prenatal & postnatal yoga classes, and provides Melbourne workplaces with group corporate yoga programs to build employee health, fitness and wellbeing, and school yoga programs. Kula also runs an annual ‘Kula Cruise’ yoga retreat sailing from Bali to Lombok & the Gili Islands. Find out more on our website www.kulayoga.com.au. Or follow us:
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