What Is Slow Yoga?

Slow Yoga is a philosophy on living and a physical practice

 Slow Yoga, As A Philosophy

On the philosophy side, Slow Yoga believes in intentional living. It requires us to take what we learn on our mat, off the mat and into the world. When we slow down in both our practice and our life, we have space to figure out what really matters to us – and to prioritise those values, people and activities that give life it’s sense of meaning.

Slow Yoga asks us to consistently practice svadhyaya – or self study. To understand the motivations behind our actions, define our values and live by these values day in and day out. Slow Yoga believes that our practice informs how we live, and that we can use our practice to hard-wire change into our lives. If we want to be a calmer, more open-minded, confident person we can practice those qualities daily on our yoga mat ( by how we relate to ourselves, our bodies and our practice ) and there fore actually BECOME a calmer, more openminded, confident person. While this shift often happens unconsciously in yoga, Slow Yoga aims to make it a conscious, intentional part of the practice.

Asana, meditation & pranayama ( the tools of yoga ) can become powerful supports in living a life that brings us both personal fulfilment and creates positive change in the world around us.

For example: Let’s say you’ve identified that sustainability is one of your core values in life ( good on you, it’s one of mine too). You’ve come up with a clear definition of what sustainability means to you and you realise that there are some parts of your life in alignment with this value, and other parts that are not. You’re ready to start exploring this concept experientially. Slow Yoga asks you to examine your physical yoga practice ( asana, pranayama & meditation ) for all the ways that you can practice, test out, try on and explore sustainability.

  • Do the poses you choose to practice lead to long term sustainability in your body? i.e. Is headstand really a good choice, if your goal is to practice yoga into your 60’s? ( disclaimer – this is an individual choice, that the student must come up with him or herself )
  • Does the way I practice, in terms of attitude, time commitment, energy exerted and so on move me towards sustainability?
  •  Do the products I use in my practice ( i.e. mat, clothes etc. ) support a sustainable lifestyle?
  • In order to have a sustainable practice, do I need to practice more yin or yang yoga?
  • How can I bring what I’ve learned about sustainability from my practice, into the rest of my life?

In this way, the philosophy behind slow yoga requires that individuals take personal responsibility for themselves, and for living a life that is truly in alignment with their own values.

To this end, Slow Yoga is taught in alignment with it’s own core values:

  • Quality over Quantity

We opt to do less, but do it well. During a slow yoga class you may only do a handful of postures, but you can expect to go deeper into each one.

  • Mindfulness

Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment, on purpose, non-judgementally. This is our work during the practice. The more we cultivate mindfulness on the mat, the easier it will be to pause before we react harshly to a loved one, the less likley we are to make a decision based on fear or insecurity. When we practice mindfully, we also create space for insights to surface – we learn more about ourselves, and how our bodies move. This can help us break out of habitual habits and patterns, both physically and emotionally.

  • Connection

Connection flows naturally from a mindfulness practice – we come to the realisation that everything is connected – and that we are not really separate from this world. We seek to emphasise this value in slow yoga, and encourage students to become connected to both themselves and their inner lives as well as connected to the community.

  • Simplicity

We believe that the teachings of yoga & meditation can be complex and esoteric – but they don’t have to be. We aim to be concise, simple and down to earth in how we approach these tools – focusing on the real world benefits of what we practice.

Slow Yoga, As A Physical Practice

 To achieve true balance in body-mind & spirit, Slow Yoga incorporates 3 main styles of practice.

1) Mindfulness Based Hatha Vinyasa

An alignment based yoga practice that creates strength, stability an integrated flexibility. Classes begin with a targeted warm up to peak the intelligence of the body. We integrate long holds that warm and strengthen the body, and build concentration with slow fluid movements allow the energy body to flush, release and clear physical, mental and emotional tension and stagnation. We breath with a slow, steady ujjayi breath of at least 5 seconds long on the inhale and exhale. Each class ends with either a seated or supine meditation or pranayama practice.

Expect to sweat, move, release and then drop into stillness. Great for people who ‘are always in their head’ or those wanting a physically challenging yet mindful practice.

2) Yin Yoga

A slow, floor based practice that emphasises stillness, introspection and deep physical release. Classes begin with a centring meditation and then slowly progress into long static postures of held anywhere from 3 – 7 minutes. During these classes students are often invited to engage in contemplation and self inquiry while in the poses themselves. Meditation techniques are also explored. These classes create healthy connective tissues, and can be a perfect stepping stone into meditation.

3) Pranayama & Meditation

At Slow Yoga we realise that yoga is much more than asana. During each class you will explore a deeply breath centred practice while being consistently reminded to come back to the present moment. However, we feel that the benefits of pranayama ( breathing practices ) and meditation are so relevant to our modern day world – ranging from reduced stress, to greater self awareness and increased emotional regulation – that we give dedicated time to cultivating these more subtle aspects of yoga in every class.

Expect to spend between 5 – 15 minutes of each practice engaged in either seated or supine breath work or meditation.

We emphasis PRESENCE over performance. 

To quote Richard Freeman – ” there are many scoundrels that can do lotus, and many saints who can not.”  Slow Yoga makes it explicit that being IN your body is much more important than the depth of the posture you achieve. How you relate to the postures is where the real transformation occurs – can you approach the pose with curiosity, open-mindedness and a willingness to feel or do you bully your body into a shape because everyone else seems to be doing it ?

The shapes themselves are meaningless, but what we can learn from them is invaluable – asana can teach us patience, confidence, strength, acceptance, focus, and so much more – but only if we are PRESENT to our inner experience when we are in the poses.

Next time we will explore the benefits of slow yoga, and unearth why slowing down our yoga practice is so special…

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