Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Choosing Slow

By Healingyoga

I just stepped away from my desk, the to do list, the inbox, and a number of other nameless distractions vying for my attention to take a slow walk around my backyard. For once, my walk wasn't goal-oriented. I wasn't trying to get from point A to point B. I wasn't walking for exercise. I wasn't rushing. I was merely walking at a leisurely pace. Slow, thoughtful steps. Just when my brain was wanting to speed things up, tackle this task or another task, worry about this deadline or that deadline, I forced my body into slowness. 

The first time I did this on my yoga mat was quite the experience. At the time I was practicing a vigorous type of flow yoga. I often praised myself for my constant movement on my mat. Flowing quickly from one posture felt good, although I didn't really notice all that much about how my body felt. Then I went to a class where the teacher slowed me down...way down. I immediately balked. What kind of yoga was this anyway?!?!?! Yoga is supposed to be quick, brisk...get on with it!

The teacher never got on with it. He didn't quicken the pace. And for the first time I noticed the nuances of my breath. I noticed my muscles bunching and relaxing. I noticed the way the soles of my feet kissed the mat. I noticed that there was less mind chatter. By the end of the practice I felt amazing, for lack of a better word. I was calm, centered, expansive, and my body felt open and alive. It was like having champagne fizzing through my bloodstream. That was my first taste of slow in my yoga practice...and certainly not my last.

Years later I trained in that very style of yoga. At the time, I was still practicing a vigorous style of yoga regularly. Yet when I committed to the training, I promised myself that I would practice this slower version of yoga daily. I couldn't quite bring myself to promise exclusivity, as I did continue to practice some vigorous yoga from time to time. But my predominant practice was slow. Some days it felt like pulling teeth to get myself on the mat. I resisted like a champ. I whined about it (in my head). I put it off and procrastinated until the very last minute I had allotted for my practice. Then I'd start and my mind would want to ramp things up. I stayed the course and after a few minutes the same thing would always happen -- I would sink into the practice and my body and soul would rejoice in the melding of breath and movement. Every. Time.

There are times when my brain is the proverbial hamster on the wheel -- it's quickly moving from one thought to another until it's created a whole story of fear, doubt, and doom. Then I remember the greatness of choosing slow. I take a few breaths. Maybe I chant a bit. Somedays (like today) I take that slow walk outside. Other days I'll do a few simple yoga postures. I slow myself down despite parts of me wanting to speed up. My senses heighten. Peace descends. I notice things I hadn't before. Life feels lighter. I feel lighter.

When I finish, the to do lists are still there, the inbox is still calling, the deadlines are still on the calendar, but I feel differently about it all. I'm less hooked, calmer, lighter. There's something powerful in slowing down at the very minute you think you should be speeding up. I tend to become more productive when I do this. It's counter-intuitive, yes, but true nonetheless. Sooner or later, it starts to bleed into other areas of your life. For me, it's been my driving. I no longer drive too fast, viewing posted speed signs as suggestions (and adding 10-15 mph to said suggestion). I'm less quick to react to something that's said or done. I may notice a strong emotion arising, but I take a minute to feel into it before I say or do anything. I've even managed to put an end to gobbling down my food and now slow down and savor my food.

Perhaps the tortoise was onto something in regards to slow and steady. Maybe there's a reason the phrase "slow your roll" has gained popularity.

Where can you incorporate a little slow into your life? Try slowing down when everything and everyone around you is saying "speed up" and notice what happens. Slow down your yoga practice once a week. Experiment with adding slow into your life. 


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