5 ways to slow down from Chrissy Carter

5 practices to help you slow down
Yoga Lifestyle by Chrissy Carter

If you're constantly checking email, easily aggravated by others or just running through life full speed ahead, try following these 5 tips on how to slow down and enjoy life from yoga teacher Chrissy Carter. Don't miss Chrissy's upcoming the Art of Hands-on Adjustments workshop at YogaWorks Union Square on April 6. 

In nature, things move slowly. In fact, one of the only times nature moves quickly is when there's the threat of imminent danger. We live in a perpetual state of fight-or-flight, reacting rather than responding to the moment in front of us. Plowing through the present moment in the hopes of "getting there" is counterproductive because we can't know where we're going if we don't first know where we are. This lack of receptivity limits our ability to remain open to possibility.

Here are five helpful tips I've been practicing to slow down and reclaim my sanity:

Look up

I spent my first few days home from my annual yoga retreat in Dominica staring up at the sky. Have you ever tried to walk fast while looking up? It's almost impossible and would likely end with your face smacked against a lamppost. Not only will you be forced to slow down, but the world you know will open up as you see--really see--bits of beautiful architecture, budding trees, and patches of sky. Catching glimpses of the unexpected and connecting to nature will inspire you to be present in the present.

Set boundaries with technology

One of the best parts of the resort where I host my retreat is that you can only connect to the Internet under a tree outside the yoga studio. There is no checking email while you eat, or while you're hanging out by the pool, or while you're in the middle of a conversation with someone. You have no choice but to commit to a designated place and time, and those imposed boundaries create so much freedom to simply enjoy whatever it is you're doing all of the other moments of your day. It's so hard to break the habit of incessantly checking our phones (I, for one, am totally addicted), but a few realistic boundaries, like technology-free meals or no email for the first and/or last hour of the day, can give us the space to just be. 

Put your fork down

I am a shamefully fast eater, something that became painfully obvious in the Caribbean, where I was always the first one finished at every meal. I just love to eat so much that I shovel the food into my mouth, barely swallowing before enthusiastically seeking out my next morsel. Putting my fork down between bites has forced me to slow down and has encouraged me to savor my food.

Be Still

One of the things I notice in my yoga practice and in my students' practices is the tendency to fidget on the mat. The first downdog in any class is a great example, because there are a lot of sensations in the body that bubble up and people react by peddling their legs, lifting limbs into the air, adjusting clothes, or picking lint off their mats. I often ask my students, "Are you responding to something you're feeling right now, or are you just doing what you always do when you come into this pose?" Rather than reacting to the sensations you feel, practice sitting with them and observing them as they come and go. If an adjustment is necessary, make an adjustment and then be still. This practice can help to move us away from reactive fidgeting.

Exhale Deeply 

The breath is such an amazing tool because it is with you always. Exhale-based breath awareness and breathing exercises help to slow us down, relieve anxiety, and ground our energy. Simply focusing on your exhale can be enough. One of my favorite pranayama practices is called Viloma 2, which divides the exhalation into thirds. Lay on your back with your knees bent in Constructive Rest. Place your hands on your lower abdomen and take a few moments to observe your breath. When you feel ready to begin, take a long, full inhalation. Exhale just a third of the breath out and pause for a few heartbeats. Exhale another third and pause, then exhale all of the breath out and pause at the very bottom of the breath. Inhale deeply and exhale all the way. It's important to go at your own pace and it should never feel like you're gasping for breath. Take a few natural breaths between each round.

Find out more about Chrissy's workshop at YogaWorks here

About the Author

Chrissy Carter

Chrissy Carter is a passionate student of yoga, both on the mat and in all of the surprising ways yoga shows up in her life, her kitchen, and her relationships. She teaches with clarity, humor, and heart and is fiercely dedicated to her students. Chrissy is a senior teacher and teacher trainer at YogaWorks in New York and is the star of Gaiam's new DVD, Beginning Yoga. She is inspired by many teachers but is currently practicing with Carrie Owerko and a 1966 edition of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking

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