Slow flow yoga is perfect for beginners but is also an extremely valuable practice for advanced yoga practitioners. If you are used to doing fast-paced yoga, slowing it down can be eye-opening. Poses might feel different and can be even more mentally challenging. There are some unique benefits of slow flow yoga that you cannot get in other practices or workouts.
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What is Slow Flow Yoga
Slow flow yoga is any yoga class taken at a slower pace and “flows” between poses. It can be seen as a mix of Hatha and vinyasa yoga. Hatha typically focuses on holding poses for a longer duration, typically at a slow pace. Vinyasa yoga can sometimes be referred to as “power yoga” with chaturangas (yogi push ups) linking poses together with your breath. Slow flow yoga will take elements of holding poses for longer durations at a slow pace, but can also include a series of poses that can blend one into another.
Slow flow yoga might also be called “yin yoga” or “restorative yoga”. These are the least intense classes and will have minimal to no flowing between postures. The focus in these classes is normally to hold poses for a long duration and put even more focus on the breath. Although meditation and mindful breathing exercises can be present in any yoga class, you are more likely to find them in these slower yoga classes.
Benefits of Slow Flow Yoga
Slow flow yoga is perfect if you are looking for a more mindful, relaxing, introspective class. In the mood to burn calories and sweat? Look for classes labeled power yoga, fire flow yoga, or yoga sculpt. Having a balanced yoga practice has so many benefits, so I encourage you to make time for both slow and faster-paced classes. Here are some of my favorite benefits of slow flow yoga classes.
Calms the Mind and Alleviates Stress
Starting the day with a slow-flow yoga class is the best way to ensure you are beginning the day on the right foot. Any anxieties or trepidation about what might be ahead of you can be washed away and tackled later. Instead, slow flow yoga allows you to ease into movement. Flows between postures are taken at an easy pace, and breath becomes extremely important.
Focusing on your breathing allows you to calm your mind and alleviate stress. There are multiple studies about how controlling your breathing can promote relaxation, such as this one from Harvard Medical School. Slow flow yoga is one of the best ways, outside of meditation, to de-stress. Some practitioners even refer to it as “moving meditation”.
Allows you to Explore Poses Deeper
If you already have a regular yoga practice you might find many classes only hold postures for a few breaths. In order to get the most benefit of the pose and work your body down to the deep connective tissue, slow flow yoga classes are necessary. Holding a posture for a few minutes can sometimes feel like an eternity. You might notice different feelings than normal, both physically and mentally. Often times it is thought hips contain your emotions, so hip openers, in particular, might cause some new feelings to bubble up.
Sometimes holding poses for longer can be uncomfortable, but it should never be painful. I highly recommend purchasing yoga blocks to make poses more comfortable. In particular, for pigeon pose I love putting a block under the lifted hip. This is the only way I can find the pose to be held comfortably for long periods. I have this affordable set from Gaiam and highly recommend it.
Self Check In (Mental and Physical)
If you are a runner or do any other high-impact activities, slow-flow yoga should be integrated into your workout or training schedule. During marathon training, I especially found the value in cross-training and taking easier rest days with slow flow yoga.
Slow flow yoga does not allow any external distractions, essentially forcing you to check in with your body. This is especially important for athletes. By slowing down and examining how the body feels in different poses, you can focus on what areas might need more attention.
Intense workout schedules can not only lead to physical but mental burnout. Overtraining and excessive use are so common, especially in runners. By changing it up and allowing time for yourself, while still finding some movement, can help prevent burnout.
No matter the yoga class I always feel uplifted when completing it. However, for slow flow yoga in particular, there is even more time spent on self-reflection. The class is what you make it out to be. Holding certain poses can not only provide emotional relief but can also help you find joy. There are many meditation classes that focus on helping you find happiness, and bringing that same type of approach to a slow-flow yoga class will only have you leaving with positive thoughts.
Improves Flexibility and Muscle Health
Slow flow yoga classes will often have you hold poses for longer, which will increase your flexibility. Healthline details the many benefits of improved mobility in your joints including better posture, lower risk of injuries, improved circulation, and more. For ideas on yoga poses to increase your flexibility, Healthline also has some great poses to try.
Most importantly in any yoga class, do not go deeper into a pose if it is painful. If it starts to feel uncomfortable, try to adjust with a block or different posture.
Where to Try Online Slow Flow Yoga Classes
Obé is a fitness streaming platform with one of the greatest variety of classes (live and on-demand) that I’ve seen in any service. It has become one of my favorite ways to work out at home because you can never get bored. Some of my favorite classes include strength, pilates, barre, cardio boxing, and of course yoga. The instructors are so personable, although you might need to try a few to find out your favorites.
Check out my in-depth review of their classes compared to Peloton if you are interested in learning more.
For yoga, my favorite instructor is Beth C. She normally incorporates breathing exercises that are incredibly grounding and calming. They are easy to learn and can also be used outside of class. Look for classes marked “vinyasa meditation and flow”, “vinyasa stress release flow”, “vinyasa grounding flow”, and for slower classes look for “restorative” which will focus on holding and stretching poses for longer. There are many more vinyasa classes versus restorative, and most of the classes I take of hers tend to be on the slower side.
If you think obé might be for you, try it out for free. Use the promo code BLISS50 to get a free 7-day trial and then 50% off your first month of monthly membership.
Youtube is my favorite free resource for slow flow yoga classes (or really any workout class for that matter). There are so many instructors to choose from, make sure to try out a few. Yoga with Kassandra has a great 38-minute slow flow yoga video below that is perfect for intermediate levels. If you are a beginner or more advanced she has plenty of options for other classes.
Unfortunately, one downfall of free Youtube videos is you might get interrupted with a commercial mid-class. This isn’t so egregious for most types of classes, but with slow flow yoga it can feel especially disruptive. After all, you are trying to flow and find some calm. I encourage you to give it a try though and either find some inner zen during the commercials, pay for Premium, or look into other subscription options.
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Do you currently practice slow flow yoga or is it something you’ll be adding to your routine?