• slow yoga

    by  • 29/08/2012 • cambridge, health, life, yoga, yoga teaching • 4 Comments

    A couple of weeks ago I led a training session for yoga teachers and, as I always do, I started with an asana practice.

    “What sort of yoga will it be?”


    A perfectly valid question of course, but one I just hate answering.  Mostly because I don’t have a concise answer.

    Over the years I have trained in Astanga Vinyasa, Iyengar, Satyananda + Viniyoga.  I have attended workshops with so many different teachers from all over the world.  These days my main influence is probably the teachings of TKV Desikachar as interpreted by Paul Harvey, but I have never formally trained with Paul.

    The influences of all the trainings I have attended and all the teachers I have worked with have resonated with me for different reasons and all of them have in turn influenced my teaching.

    So what sort of yoga do I teach?

    Hatha Yoga is such a cop-out.  A lot of people see it to mean a sort of gentle, suitable-for-everyone, yoga class. But Hatha Yoga is just a description of the physical aspect of yoga (as opposed to, for example, Karma Yoga – helping others). But I often find myself calling it Hatha simply because I can’t think of anything else to say.

    And then,  a few weeks ago some Australian friends of mine mentioned “slow yoga”.  And a lightbulb went off in my head.

    That’s it!  That’s what I teach!

    Over time both my personal practice and my teaching have changed. A lot. More recently, because of the Pilates training, my teaching has become more focussed on origins of movement, on feeling movement before doing it, on slowness, steadiness.

    Not everyone wants that (although it could be argued that a lot of people in our hugely fast-paced world could benefit from it) but that’s OK.  A lot of people want a faster practice, a hotter practice, a practice that makes them sweat.  And honestly that’s great.

    But it doesn’t work for me anymore.

    And I’m guessing it doesn’t work for the loyal band of students I have built up over the last couple of years. The people who need to work out how and why their bodies move in the way they do.  The people who need some quiet time, some still time.  The people who, after a slow yoga session, realise how much it has worked their muscles and how warm and (dare I say it) almost sweaty they are.  The people who have lightbulb moments of their own when they realise how hard they have to work to move slowly, precisely, efficiently.

    We have a lot of fun as well!  We experiment with new poses.  We fall out of balances.  We continually try to master the art of the side plank. We laugh a lot.  Because laughter can sometimes be the best practice of them all!

    Does this sound like it might be your sort of thing?

    Why not join us for a class?

    Or come and try a 1:1 session with me.

    Get in touch via phone 07985 779892 or email rachel@massage-movment.co.uk or leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

    (image source)


    4 Responses to slow yoga

    1. 29/08/2012 at 11:52 am

      Slow yoga… the un-branded (gee I hope it stays that way), way of the future. It’s a state of mind, a way of practicing and I like to think you can do slow yoga no matter which style you’re doing. But yeah, it suits me perfectly.

      I told my students last night: I’ve been practicing yoga for many years now and I practice at the same pace I’m teaching you, because I think it’s better. :)

    2. 01/09/2012 at 11:37 am

      I am ALL about slowing down these days. I love how you put it: “focussed on origins of movement, on feeling movement before doing it, on slowness, steadiness”. This is EXACTLY where my practice is going these days too, and so also my teaching. I was inspired by a recent teacher of mine who teaches in Shanghai – he describes how flexible the majority of his Chinese students are, and how in order to make his classes more challenging for his students, he had to slow them right down. In the west, we tend to think the opposite – more challenging = faster, more complex sequences, more difficult postures. But my challenge at the moment is all about going back to basics, thinking and moving in a slow deliberate way. Hooray for slow yoga!

    3. Pingback: So-called “normal” life makes us sick! « Svasti: A Journey From Assault To Wholeness

    4. 13/01/2013 at 2:52 am

      Oh man, that sounds perfect. I wish I could take a class from you
      Shelby recently posted..New Year, New Word.

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