The Benefits of Slow Yoga
Longer poses, slower transitions, deeper breathing and greater focus are just some of the characteristics of slow yoga. Here’s why you ought to try it.
The mind and body benefits of yoga are well documented but if you've only ever tried faster, more intense versions before, you might be missing out. As well as carrying their own significant physical and mental benefits, slower forms of yoga such as Vinyasa, Hatha and Yin might also help boost your performance in the gym and help keep you flexible, strong and injury-free. Moving too quickly between more dynamic poses, the kind that are characteristic of practises like Ashtanga, can trigger a protective stretch reflex that can actually make put strain on your muscles and joints. This happens when your body signals to your muscles to contract in the face of sudden or sharp movement.
Although yoga in general is an accessible form of exercise that almost everyone can do, slower forms of yoga are the perfect entry point for anyone with limitations, mobility issues or existing injuries. As well as encouraging a calmer, gentler flow throughout, slow yoga promotes time and space to pose with care and explore your own body’s ability to adjust and settle into each pose, meaning it’s much less fraught with injury risk in itself.
If you’re looking to build strength more quickly, then you may have only opted for more powerful forms of yoga before, but consider slow yoga the marathon alternative to power yoga’s sprint. Although you’ll primarily notice better flexibility over strength because of the focus on tends to continuous transition of poses, the strength of your muscles and joints will improve over time with regular practice.
Deeper belly breathing that goes hand in hand with varieties like Yin yoga is another reason to keep things slow because of the way it stimulates the parasympathetic system, the part of the nervous system that induces rest and relaxation. If you're constantly in a state of stress or are having trouble switching off to sleep, try practising some gentle slow yoga before bed to reduce feelings of anxiety and encourage calm.