Why you need to slow down your yoga
MMMM. Gentle Yoga. Restorative Yoga. Yin Yoga. Meditation. iRest Yoga Nidra.
These are a few of my favorite things!
Yet I am amazed by the confusion and resistance surrounding these yoga classes.
Yesterday I went to Gentle Yoga with one of my favorite yoga ladies–Megan Weathers— in Tampa at the studio Bella Prana. I had been looking forward to it all week–slowing my brain down, relaxing my body, and calming my nervous system.
When I entered class, however, I was surprised to have not one, but TWO women asked me “why are you taking a gentle yoga class? You look pretty fit!”
Woah there. First of all, I could do a blog post on NOT making assumptions. Suffice it to say, we should NEVER assume something about another person, their body, a class, you name it. But that’s a story for another day! 😉
For today, I want to focus on the benefits of gentle yoga, restorative yoga, meditation, etc. Why we ALL should be taking these classes–and many of us supposedly “physically fit” people need it the most.
Three Reasons to Slow Down Your Yoga Class
1. Calm the monkey mind
Am I the only one who has a brain that goes into hyper-drive? I doubt it. Slower yoga classes can allow you to still the brain. To let go of worry, anxiety, and the thinking mind. To find the now and let things be slower, patient, and to take them as they come. Moreover, it can help eliminate depression, decrease anxiety, and lead to greater enjoyment of life. (Now isn’t that something we all want?) Also, by helping you connect to the present moment you increase overall mindfulness–meaning you will be less likely to overindulge, more likely to go to bed when you are tired, and better able to find happiness in the little things.
2. Stretch the body and slowly release physical tension
I’m a runner. I have scoliosis. I work at a desk. I drive a car. I live in a fast-paced society. We go go go go all the time. It is easy to keep “going,” to zoom through life without pausing. But we need to slow down. To soften the shoulder blades. To let go the tension from our hamstrings and relax our hips. Also, for real opening of body and to actually increase flexibility, poses need to be held for a longer period of time. (So if you are a runner and hope to lengthen your hamstrings during just a quick flow class once a week–think again!)
As a young athletic person, I need to relax even more. While running fast may be appropriate for the half marathon–we can’t take that speedy Gonzalez approach to life. Moreover, my back needs constant TLC, traction, and gentle help getting into proper alignment. Not to mention the icky shoulders from hunching over cars, talking on the phone, sitting at desks, and generally living the modern life!!
3. Improved general health
When you slow down, you allow your body to heal. Why? When you slow down, you allow your body to enter the parasympathetic nervous system. (Aka the opposite of “fight or flight.”) When we live in the parasympathetic system is responsible for rest and digestion. Rest and digestion–those are always good things, yeah? Also, when you are relaxed your body is better able to fight off illnesses and your immune system functions optimally. Plus, if you take a class like yoga nidra you may be experiencing the benefit of added sleep! They say TEN minutes of yoga nidra is the equivalent of ONE hour of sleep! Awesome. Who here gets enough sleep? We need to rest and we need to slow down in order to handle the overall speed of daily life.
Do you meditate or take restorative yoga classes? Why or why not? What is your favorite thing about restorative yoga?