Most of my first class was spent “resting” on my legs in the Child’s Pose. I worried if I could leave the studio with my throbbing legs and reassured myself that I would not return. The instructor’s Vinyasa Yoga seemed to be 90 minutes of pain–sit-ups, wrist abuse, and contortion with little time to breathe. Years later, I revisited my yoga curiosity and discovered that Asanas could be performed at different speeds.
When looking for the proper yoga practice for you, there are many things to consider. Here are some ideas you can keep in mind when comparing faster yoga practices (such as Vinyasa and Ashtanga) or slower (such as Restorative, Gentle, or Gentle).
Slow Yoga Slow Yoga
Dynamic classes that are fast-paced and dynamic can be a great way to release stagnant, built-up energy. They also build muscle strength through repetition. Quick Yoga poses give us less time to reflect, which makes it easier to calm our minds. Maintaining smooth, steady movements and breathing awareness during faster classes is a great way to practice intentional action if you tend to rush through your activities.
Slower yoga classes tend to focus more on mental relaxation and proper alignment. By spending more time on an asana, whether it’s several breaths or a few minutes, you can naturally reduce stress and promote relaxation. The longer you hold the pose, the more your muscles and connecting tissues will have time to relax and lengthen. This increases flexibility, promotes muscle development, and opens up difficult-to-reach areas around joints (i.e., Hips and lower spine). Slow yoga classes are also a great way to improve concentration by focusing on your inhalations and exhalations.
Honor Your Body
When choosing a practice, it is essential to consider your physical capabilities and limitations. Those with chronic pain or injuries should avoid fast or flow classes. Age does not always indicateysical condition but may affect your pace preference.
According to Ayurveda, we can use Yoga to offset any imbalances that may exist, not just physical limitations. If you are a person who moves slowly and is prone to feeling lethargic, then a high-tempo, light yoga class could help boost your energy. If you are prone to over-exertion or regularly engage in strenuous activities, you might want to choose slower, more grounding poses. Yoga can also help you adjust to the season or time of day. A series of Sun Salutations can warm your body in the morning on a cold day, while a more therapeutic and slower session will help you wind down before bed.
As with a balanced diet, it’s important to maintain flexibility and strength. It’s easy to understand how yin-yang can be used to nourish the body in opposite, but equally important, ways. Slower alignment-based poses prepare the body for more physically demanding practices. Faster practices help to build strength and resolve, which will be helpful for longer, deeper, introspective sessions.
Yoga is not about how fast you practice but rather about connecting with yourself and doing what’s best for your mind, body, and spirit at any given moment.
Are you a person who sticks to a particular “fast” or slow type of Yoga, or do you have a fluid and adaptable practice? If you are a person who is accustomed to a specific “fast” or “slow” type of Yoga, then I encourage you to explore something new.