Posted by: eveyoga | October 24, 2011

The Yoga of Stress Reduction: Slow Down, You’re Goin’ Too Fast

Mitchells Island Horses

Think of just one thing you could do to turn your life around, or as a yoga teacher encourage your students to do. Might it be to slow down?

Of course, learning yoga relaxation techniques is a crucial part of knowing how to slow down. Every time you practice savasana, you enter into a process of re-discovering your own rhythm.

Unfortunately, the hurried, harried pace at which most people live is the air we breathe. We’re probably not designed for constant rushing around, but “the urgency addiction” has become something like second nature to us. That urge to hurry is ingrained from an early age when even toddlers are exhorted to get a move on and to keep up with older siblings or parents. Even when there are no external demands being put on us, there’s a kind of internal pressure to keep up, to be on time, to fall in step.

Have you ever noticed how at the beginning of a holiday you’ll jump into your car and speed off even when you don’t have an official timetable to adhere to? It’s a sad indictment of this mentality that we’ll have a two week holiday break and need one week of it to wind down.

In vipassana meditation courses, one technique used to slow people down is walking meditation, done in periodic one-hour sessions through the day. An outsider watching a meditator doing this practice might view the slow walking as eerie and zombie-like, but the meditator is paying minute attention to the details of something that is usually done in a perfunctory way.

It’s quite humbling when you stop to observe the tiny adjustments your body makes every time you take a step. When you mind is focussed like this, as it can be in your asana practice, mind chatter winds down, or even stops. The result is what we strive for: calm.

It’s over to you whether you want to relax and take life more slowly. Sometimes, to paraphrase Judith Lasater, it takes courage.

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