Yoga Alloy

Why a slow yoga flow is better than a fast one?

Photo by Magda Ehlers

Sometimes yoga teachers teach a class where you keep transitioning from one pose to the other with each breath. Other times you end up in classes where you hold poses for several breaths. In this article, I want to discuss why some people prefer a fast flow and why it is not the most beneficial option for them. 

  • If you are a yoga teacher, you will get a solid answer to the students who question the pace of your classes. 
  • If you are a practitioner, you will have guidance about how to choose the rhythm of your practice or yoga teacher. 
  • If you are looking for a yoga teacher training, you will also get an idea of how the yoga style of your YTT can change your experience.

Some people say that they get bored in the classes when the practice is slow. They also say that they enjoy sweating during a class, but when the flow is not fast, they do not. 

I will focus on two important teachings of yoga to show you how important it is to slow down your yogic practice:

  1. Growth is beyond the boundaries of our comfort zone
  2. Profound asana experience takes time

Growth is beyond the boundaries of our comfort zone

Photo by Alena Koval

We are already living in a society with a very high pace. Everything happens so fast. We rarely have time to stop and contemplate on the vents of the day. We even more rarely have time to check in with ourselves. Many people live unaware of their emotional responses to the events of the day.

Believe me; we do not need any fast-flowing activities. Yet, because it is what we are used to, we feel comfortable in it. Silence and slowness feel uninteresting, uncomfortable, and awkward to many people, simply because they do not know what to do with it. This is one reason why so many yoga teachers are teaching one breath one movement kind of flows.

The fact that one feels uncomfortable with slowing down shows how deeply they need to slow down.

Our minds have a powerful inclination to repeat habits and old behavior patterns. When you attempt to change things, you see an extreme resistance. The most potent part of this mental resistance is that it does not look like a resistance. Your mind comes up with very reasonable, self-righteous arguments in the face of the discomfort that a slow flow presents.

  • This is boring.
  • Nothing is happening.
  • The pace is slow, so this is not challenging enough.
  • I could have done 30 push-ups etc… instead of this.
  • There is no point in this.
  • Let’s go through the plan for tomorrow since I am not doing much in this class. 

Slowing down enables you to hear yourself. Become aware of constant urges your senses and mind comes up with. Those patters, unconscious inclinations inspire your behavior your relationship with yourself and your life. The beautiful thing is that, if you are aware of the unconscious actions, you can change them. And with that kind of power, you can change your life.

Profound asana experience takes time

Even with the most simple asana, the proper muscle activations are quite complex. In YTT, we break down the poses and have a detailed alignment session. Almost all YTT students feel astonished about how much there is to do in each asana. 

I ask our YTT students the number of cues they have written down for a basic pose within Sun Salutations. The average amount is 15. Of course, a yoga teacher will not give you 15 cues in a class. But as a practitioner, you want to align and engage properly and deeply. Undoubtfully it takes time. It takes longer than an inhale or an exhale to align, deepen, and experience the asana. 

Without engaging the right muscles in the right way, you do not benefit the pose as much as you can. I met so many yogins, even yoga teachers who did not build enough personal and physical strength over the long years of practice. I had a chance to observe my YTT students quickly learn how to empower themselves through their practices in a few weeks. 

Embody the sacred within

Yoga is not about being safe and relaxed all the time. It is about being powerful enough to be present even in the most uncomfortable situations. A good yoga teacher guides you into loving the things you used to run away from.

Yoga Alloy