“Sloness is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them.”
~ Carl Honore, In Praise of Slowness
First I would like to mention I love fast, hot sweaty yoga. I love physical challenges. Taking slow yoga for me is not because I can’t do faster yoga or because faster yoga is “too advanced” for me, there is a much deeper reason for taking slow yoga. For those of you that think fast, hot and sweaty is more advanced consider this, do you struggle holding a pose and evaluating every muscle, every breath in the pose? Do you struggle remaining on your own mat and not looking around the room to see what everyone else is doing? Do you struggle retaining focus unless you are physically exhausted? Read on to see how slow yoga may benefit you.
Slow Improves Energy, Reduces Fatigue & Exhaustion
Emerging research suggests several important benefits of
slow, mindful movement practices. Scientists are starting
to understand the benefits slow movement has on important
systems involved in the regulation of energy including:
- The Immune System
- The Pain Response System
- Body Temperature Regulation
We live in a culture that views time as money. Slow is a luxury! Slow, mindful yoga can help you develop greater patience and improve overall health. Slow, mindful yoga helps train your nervous system to recognize stress and build resilience.
Slow Yoga Can Reduce Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is a growing public health problem. It is often hard to diagnose exactly the cause of the pain or how to treat it. Two patients with the same condition can present with entirely different chronic pain symptoms, the human body is still somewhat of an enigma and we are still learning.
Studies are starting to develop proving the benefits of slow, mindful movement in the field of chronic pain. Slow, mindful movement can begin to settle dysfunctional pain signals, reduce sensitization, and reorganize the nervous system. Regular slow yoga practice helps to develop a more functional and accurate connection between the body and mind so that chronic pain is reduced. An import aspect of this process is that slow movement fosters the “rest and digest” or parasympathetic nervous system response, which is helpful for reducing chronic pain.
Slow Yoga Reduces Depression
Holger Cramer, a prolific German yoga researcher, suggests that yoga can significantly ease the symptoms of depression. Cramer’s studies show the following benefits:
- Improves nervous system function
- Decreases stress hormones
- Activates attention networks
- Reduces emotional reactivity
- Reduces dysfunctional thoughts
- Enhances positive psychological characteristics
“Meditative forms of yoga are especially useful.”
– Holger Cramer
Slow Yoga Improves Digestion
There are more neurons in our gut than in either our brain or spinal cord! If you have not yet heard of the “gut-brain connection” then take the time to read the previous sentence again and let that sink in.
“The second brain informs our state of mind in other more obscure ways, as well. “A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut,” Mayer says. Butterflies in the stomach—signaling in the gut as part of our physiological stress response, Gershon says—is but one example. Although gastrointestinal (GI) turmoil can sour one’s moods, everyday emotional well-being may rely on messages from the brain below to the brain above. For example, electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve—a useful treatment for depression—may mimic these signals, Gershon says.”
The “Rest and Digest” response of the nervous system is essential for digestion. It is a below the-level of consciousness function of the parasympathetic nervous system. Slow mindful movement can override stress signals and improve digestion.
“Rest & Digest” is a foundation for healing, reducing inflammation, detoxifying and optimizing health throughout the entire body.
Slow Yoga Can Improve Symptoms of Chronic Conditions
“We conclude that maladaptive construal of bodily sensations may lie at the heart of many contemporary maladies, and that contemplative practices may attenuate these interpretative biases, restoring a person’s sense of presence and agency in the world.”
~ Norman Farb, researcher
Slow, mindful yoga develops “interoceptive awareness,” or the ability to more deeply understand one’s own body and it’s “messages”. Our bodies are constantly sending us signals, often long before serious issues present themselves fully. Slow yoga can help you tune into these messages and hear our body when it is “whispering to us” instead of waiting until it is “screaming”. Becoming more aware of our own physical bodies can present opportunities for us to “heal from within” or to simply make better choices for our health based on a deeper understanding.