The Surprising Benefits of Slow Yoga: Why Slowing Down Is Better for Your Body

yoga practice

How do you feel about fast yoga?

In my 13 years of teaching yoga, I've noticed that people generally feel pretty strongly about this.

Either you love love LOVE fast yoga or it just really isn't for you.

My Journey with Fast Yoga

Once upon a time, I was one of those people who loved it. I was in my early 20s. I had a lot of energy and anxiety that kept me moving pretty quickly through life. There was a power yoga studio I liked to go to with a heated room and dark orange lighting. I felt like I was practicing yoga in a warm jungle at sunset. I liked the steady rhythm of the yoga sequence, modulated by moving with the inhale and exhale. It was fast as far as yoga goes, but it was still slower than anything else I did, and I appreciated it for that. It was a good fit for me at the time.

Then my world got more complicated.

The Dangers of Fast Yoga

I was pushing for fancier poses in my practice, or "project poses" as I called them. They represented progress to me. At the time, people were just starting to use Instagram, and nailing a new project pose meant I could now strike it up at the beach or the hiking summit and post it online for other people to see. I got caught up thinking that doing fancy poses meant I was a better teacher and a better yoga student.

And that's when I started hurting myself.

At first, I was confused. I followed all the alignment principles, but my injuries persisted. Yoga, a huge part of my life, now felt like it was being taken away. I realized that to keep yoga in my life, I had to change my approach.

A Clueless Teacher

I felt clueless. Despite my teaching certification and daily practice, I knew almost nothing about the human body beyond yoga poses. This realization crushed my dreams. I needed to learn more about the body outside of yoga.

As I made changes, I noticed I was slowing my practice down. I spent more time in poses, carefully distributing load throughout my body, and treating each transition as a movement worth paying attention to. This intuitive shift seemed to help my pain.

Understanding the Benefits of Slow Yoga

Then I learned why slow yoga works. Moving quickly relies on pre-programmed movement patterns, reinforcing existing asymmetries. Most of us have dominant sides, resulting in slight twists and tips in our bodies. Fast movements exacerbate these asymmetries, leading to overuse injuries.

The problem with fast yoga is it works until it doesn’t. It’s fun until one day you pull or tweak something in a pose you’ve done a thousand times. That’s what happened to me—I injured my shoulder in Cat Pose, a warmup pose. It wasn’t a complicated movement, but years of asymmetry had caught up with me.

Why Slow Yoga Benefits Your Body

Slowing down and being deliberate with movements encourages new wiring between your brain and body. This rewiring helps balance and function, reducing the risk of injury. Fast movements reinforce old patterns; slow movements create new, healthier ones. The benefits of slow yoga include better body awareness, improved alignment, and decreased risk of injury.

You have to earn the right to move fast. This means doing the slow, sometimes frustrating work of retraining your brain and body to work together in more functional ways. It’s not as sexy as deep poses, but in the long run, your body will work better and longer, while others complain about getting old.

Conclusion: Embrace Slow Yoga

If you’re ready to transform your yoga practice and reduce your risk of injury, try slowing down. Join me in exploring the benefits of a slower, more mindful practice.

I've been sharing this link to a free 30-minute class "Daily Warmup" in my last few blog posts . I've heard from so many of you that you feel like you got a head-to-toe tune-up from this practice, and I'm not surprised. This is the type of stuff that our body craves that is often not delivered in a group yoga class. The depth of your pose truly does not matter. What matters is: Can you breathe? Can you move slowly, with control? Can you move your joints in all directions?  

Practice the Daily Warmup. Tune into and tune up your body. Forge a deeper connection with yourself in the process. This gets at the heart of yoga. 

I'll "see" you on the mat!

 From my living room to yours,