5 Benefits to Slowing Down your Practice
Imagine yourself zipping down the road and the world blurring by. Now imagine yourself walking down that same street. What do you notice when you walk instead of drive? Perhaps you can hear the birds chirping, you feel the wind on your face, you notice the smell of the nearby restaurant, and you notice the old man on the corner reading the paper. Would you have had the same experience if you zipped by in your car? Your practice is the same. When we slow down the movement, and the breath, the discoveries are endless.
1. Enhance Awareness
The more slowly we more the more opportunities we provide to cultivate awareness to the subtleties of the body and the mind. Moving quickly can often cover up disconnection and mindless chatter. Slowing down allows us to draw deeper into ourselves, our thoughts, and our bodies. This might be scary and even more difficult than you can imagine. I encourage you to challenge yourself. Get to know yourself, the good the bad and the ugly. From this place of honesty, through heightened awareness, we can move forward on the mat and more importantly, in our lives.
2. Create Full Body Integration
Yoga – a deep connection, integration, and yoking of body mind and spirit. Slow movement facilitates this higher integration . Each subtle micro movement becomes a journey in an of itself. From the engagement of your pinky toe to the lifting through the crown of the head each slow shift in the body becomes a sensual and connected experience. When moving quickly we might not have time to draw awareness to the whole as we focus on just the part. We spend much of our time disconnected to the body, on the computer, on the phone, or mindlessly gabbing. Slow down and connect to your whole system, integrate, and discover the real you.
3. Increase Strength
Moving quickly is easier and less precise. Ever complete a project and realize some fundamental and crucial details were simply overlooked because you didn’t take the time to really look! I sure have. The same thing happens in our practice. As soon as we enter a pose we are already thinking about the next posture. Why? Because it is easier. I encourage you to stay, breathe, and build strength. Don’t overlook the small stuff. Master the basics and let your bones sink into the poses. Your muscles will grow to support you.
4. Increase Lung Capacity
The more slowly we move the more slowly we can breathe. In the race of the tortoise and the hare, it is the cool calm steady nature of the tortoise that leads him to victory. Easier said than done. When we move quickly breath tends to be more superficial clavicular or intercostal breath. It is quick, shallow and constrained to the central or top of the lungs. When we slow down the movement the breath has no choice but to follow. When we breathe pranayamic breath, we use the whole lungs, expanding all the way to the deepest cavities of the bronchial tubes. In the Krisnamacharya lineage of yoga, we use the breath as our ultimate teacher and guide to our practice. Give your lungs expansion and experience the powerful transformation.
5. Deeper Surrender
Breathing slowly takes us deeper into all aspects of our practice, especially surrender. When we stop resisting, fighting, and clinging, we can sink into the deepest of surrenders. Only when we take time to uncover and peel back the layers of self and see ourselves naked, can we truly surrender. We cannot hide or run away when we take the time to examine and sink deep into our practice. The only option aside from resistance is surrender. Surrendering is union. Union is yoga.
SO, next time you practice make it your intention to move more slowly, more mindfully, and notice the transformation that will occur within you. This journey is endless. Take the time to enjoy the walk instead of the drive.