In praise of slow


Why practice yoga with a sense of slowness? I’m often asked. Strictly speaking you don’t need to read this much further, I invite you to pop off your shoes and socks and begin to move very slowly and simply feel. And you will get “it”.

But as you are reading this post here is how I like to put things ; in the most succinct way…Patience. Presence. Feeling. Integrity. Grace. Power.

What may happen: Frustration. Impatience. Clunking. Discord. Awareness of where strength doesn’t (yet) exist.

Anyway..... those that want words not feelings here’s some more words about what you will be feeling:

Imagine speeding down a motorway…. a little too fast, you are coming up to a sign, but in your speed you cant see quite make out what it says….. Dammit.  I feel yoga is very similar, all this zooming about in momentum that we see happening on mats gives us so little time to observe what is going on inside us.  So we miss a chance to feel that connection to ourselves.

Finding space in time within a practice serves to only deepen.  I am yet to come across a yogic advantage to a speedier practice, or a disadvantage to a slower one.   (I am very happy to be informed of any though)

Slowness is the obvious yin (def; (in Chinese philosophy) the passive female principle of the universe, characterized as female and sustaining and associated with earth, dark, and cold) to modern society’s “yanging about”  (yang def; (in Chinese philosophy) the active male principle of the universe, characterized as male and creative and associated with heaven, heat, and light.). Less speed within our practice may serve to counterbalance the speed of life off the mat. I know from my “other role” in programming and managing well-being events that the over stimulation by external forces can be completely overwhelming. This digital age, with its capacity to unite us all can in fact leave us frazzled. The constant push for more-more-more rails right up against our real need to just be. Sluglife is the medicine for this.

Yoga practice as the way to integrate real life change, a way to hone and integrate positive patterns.  Our practice on a mat is a practice for life off the mat, it’s a place where we can mess up, fall over, struggle and get emotional without it impacting anybody else. And once we establish patterns of being on the mat, build our “slow” muscles - FYI not real muscles but a metaphor-  we will see this being carried into our lives off the mat in a very subtle way. (Also works for any other attribute you wish to embody).

From a physical perspective slowness gives you time to work out where your parts are - allows a clear proprioception. And from this knowledge you can organise your body and its next move. There is more time.  There is a clearer picture through the bones of where and what they interact with.  How would more space to organise yourself impact life off the mat?

Allows us to move out of habitual movement and discover new channels we can move through. Thus helping us circumvent the threat of overuse of certain joints that come with a practice that is very repetitive.  How would living a more creative life feel to you? How does freedom feel?

Offers an opportunity to feel deeper - feeling beyond the “loud and fast” feedback of the neuromuscular system and become aware of the body other levels of communication - what can you hear?  What gives rise to these sensations within that are drowned out by the muscular sensing?  What would finding a depth to yourself mean? Where could this communication guide you?

In order to find this deeper connection to ourselves we need to slow down on and off the mat. Take a pause between feeling and moving, creating ideas and acting and take another feel.... how does that feel to you?

Take. It. Slow.

Pip Roberts