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David BRISSON
Yoga Tree teacher Kumiko Koba and student Satoko Yoshikawa appeared in videos for Yoga Works.

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Why slow yoga?
2017.10.02 - BLOG

When I think back to when I first started practicing yoga, I remember how my practice included a lot of relaxing. Savasana. Restorative postures. Trying not to do too much. In many ways, this was out of necessity. Due to overtraining for marathons and cycling races, my body was a mess. Most yoga asanas were difficult and lying around felt good.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that this process of learning to be still and let go was giving me inroads into an advanced yoga practice.

Yoga at a high level isn’t the ability to do complex postures. That comes from some combination of athletic talent, youth, and the willingness to undertake an intense daily practice. The advanced practices of yoga, on the contrary, start from something more fundamental: mindfulness.

Over the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a good weekly yoga practice and what Yoga Tree should be doing to offer it. For many of us who came of age before the 1990s, it goes without saying that life today moves at a dizzying pace. But, of course, it’s hardly an option to opt out of the pace of life, especially if you have a job, kids, or even a yoga studio to run. So, to maintain some semblance of balance in life, shouldn’t the yoga practice serve to provide some respite from the breakneck speed at which we run to finish our day?

That’s not to suggest that good strong Hatha yoga and active practices focused on movement are not important. They are. They nourish the body in ways that meditation can’t. But sitting at ease, relaxing and enjoying stillness are so vital that we should find time to nurture the practices that give us this ability to make space in ourselves for doing less.

With that in mind, we are making some slight changes to our studio schedule. As a start, Kumiko Koba has begun teaching a Mindful Yoga class twice a week, we will increase the frequency of our Sunday Restorative Yoga class, and later this autumn I plan to introduce a morning pranayama class.

For those you have never explored restorative yoga or yoga practices directed toward mindfulness, these classes offer a good chance to discover how practices of relaxation can be rejuvenating for the body and mind.

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