I was chatting to Karen’s flatmate the other day, and she was telling me that, for a while, the yoga classes she’d been going to were making her angry.
‘Why?’, I asked.
‘It’s the power flow,’ she replied, ‘I hate moving that fast. It makes me angry.’
You know WHY it was making her angry?
In order to move fast through vinyasa, and breathe with every movement, your breath necessarily shortens and speeds up. Which makes it shallow.
Stress-pattern breathing, basically.
Plus, you tend to use your secondary breathing muscles in your neck & shoulders when breathing this way, rather than your primary breathing muscles (diaphragm and intercostals). So, what you are effectively doing, as you speed up your breath, is sending a message to your body that it’s under stress.
If you breathe quite fast anyway, you won’t get angry in fast vinyasa classes, because you won’t have to artificially shorten your breath. But if you breathe slowly?
Sorry, you are gonna have to move slowly. Otherwise, you will leave your yoga class agitated and pissed off.
A few deep breaths and slow movements can’t be a bad thing.
Everyone breathes at their own pace – that’s why something like Mysore-style Ashtanga practice is great. Everyone goes at their own pace, according to the pace of their own breath.
Even better, my perfect-world situation? A Free Form class where everyone works on their own, personal and personalised practice, and the teacher is there to help them with alignment and keep them in a safe zone. I used to run classes a bit like that as community events, but only the brave came.
I tend in the direction of breathing slowly, practicing slowly and teaching that way. It’s what keeps my nervous system on an even keel. But when I was younger, I loved a fast practice. You just have to find what works for you, right now. The thing that DOESN’T piss you off. Just, you know, to be crystal clear. Yeah.