Traditionally yoga was prescribed by the family Vedic guru (teacher) whose job was to teach the children the ways of a Vedic lifestyle.
This included the practices of yoga, breathing, and meditation, which had much to do with Vedic psychology. The yoga postures were prescribed individually rather than in a sequence like in modern yoga classes offered in studios. Each posture or body mudra had a specific effect to the body and the mind, it was like a meditation in and of itself and was held for a few minutes, progressively increasing the holding time.
These long holds administer benefits that go deeper than simply delivering fitness, a good stretch, or better flexibility. Without the long holds of a posture you miss on the full experience.
Holding the pose create space for the mind to experience and relax, connect with the sensation of the body that otherwise will go unnoticed, it allow to get deeper in the fascia, where deep memories are stored, releasing the stagnation of energy and blockages, the hold becomes a meditative state where the body and mind are free to release and heal.
In yoga is about prana, life force and nadis the energy channels in the body, the Chakras. When Prana flow correctly the body-mind system is in balance and free from diseases. Our modern lifestyle really challenge our body, from poor diet, stress, sedentary life, aging, pollution, emotions, etc. the body react by tensing up. The channel within the body becomes blocked (a bit like cholesterol in the veins) and unless this blockages are removed, the life force within the body diminishes which become evident with pains, body becomes rigid, the body systems becomes weaker.
One of the purposes of yoga asana (poses) is to help break up this blockages. The long holds act directly in releasing stress and tension in the physical body. Long holds allow the muscles to begin to relax. If you hold a posture for just 15-30 seconds, the tendons (the attachments where the muscles connect to the bone) tighten in resistance to the stretch. If you force the stretch you might damage the tendon.
If the posture is held for sufficient time (generally 10 breaths) the belly of the muscle (where all the blood and potential elasticity is found) will begin to release and lengthen, the result is more permanent elasticity and flexibility. . If you give time, the tendon relax, the muscle relax, the fascia relax. It's a ripple effect that reach your subconscious, your parasympathetic nervous system, your mind. Reducing physical and mental stress reduce inflammation which has been recognised to be the cause of many autoimmune diseases and chronic diseased).
In Yoga this process remove blockages and allow prana to flow freely, your body tissue receive nourishment and the body system functions can return to normal, its the process of healing.
Slow Yoga is not at all a "beginners" yoga, in fact it is quite advance, one has to have an open mind to learn from this process. Traditional yoga is therefore is very powerful healing practice, it offer very powerful returns in its simplicity and at the same time incredibly profound.
There are 72,000 nadis, or subtle energy channels in the body, according to Ayurveda and Yogic philosophy. These subtle channels becomes active only when prana or the breath moves into them, it like the first breath of a new born baby, everything is there but life starts with the first breath. Through the combination of long-hold of yoga postures, focus (still mind, meditation like) and breathing (pranayama), prana activates the Nadis and moves through the density of the physical body.
According to Ayurveda, through the practices of slow yoga, breathing, meditation and a balanced lifestyle, it is possible to change pattern of illnesses.
When the postures are held briefly, or the breathing and meditation components are lacking in the yoga practice, the full potential of yoga is left unrealized.
Note: Slow Yoga classes are available to book here.