Why You Should Build Your Yoga Practice With Slow Flow, the Best Beginner-Friendly Yoga Classes
Slow things down and settle in.
By Team Peloton•
New to yoga and not sure where to start? Before you can pop into crow pose with ease or nail a headstand, you have to learn the basics, from asana to zen. The best yoga for beginners helps newbies learn how to hold a proper plank, what a sun salutation entails, and what form tweaks will keep you from getting injured.
One beginner-friendly yoga practice is known as slow flow yoga. If you’re worried that the pace of a normal flow will be a little too fast, these classes are a time when you can slow things down, allow your body to adjust, and really understand the shape each pose asks of you. Here’s what to know about slow flow yoga and why it’s considered the best yoga for beginners.
What Is the Best Yoga Class for Beginners?
While most yoga classes can be modified to fit any level, certain styles are more appropriate for beginners. We have an entire guide to the best yoga for beginners, but here’s a quick breakdown for you:
Slow Flow Yoga
Slow flow yoga is often called the best yoga for beginners, and for good reason: It moves at a manageable, deliberate pace with plenty of time to sink into deeper poses. Your heart rate will stay nice and low, and the instructor will offer plenty of cues to help you tune into your positioning and muscles. That way, you’re able to get the most out of each asana physically and mentally.
A hatha yoga class is focused on balance, which yogis find by transitioning from one pose into a counterbalancing pose immediately after. The slow-flowing practice also emphasizes balance and breathwork by asking you to hold poses for several breaths at a time, finding steadiness and a strong foundation throughout. Between each pose, you’ll return to the top of your mat rather than flowing non-stop—so beginners can easily reset without falling out of step with the rest of the class.
Restorative yoga is the most gentle form of yoga, with very few of the poses you’ve probably seen in other classes. That’s because you’ll be using props, like bolsters, pillows, blankets, and straps, to achieve peak relaxation. You hold poses for up to 15 minutes (yes, really) to allow you to fully bliss out, and even better, you’ll be on the ground the entire time. Expect to leave the studio feeling supported and well-rested—and if you happen to take a little catnap during class, that’s okay too. Restorative yoga is perfect for great sleep.
Yin yoga is similar to slow flow yoga in that it’s slower-paced, but the focus is on deep stretching rather than moving from pose to pose. You’ll use props to enhance your stretches (think: a strap in a seated forward fold, or blocks during pigeon), and each pose is held for around five minutes. While it might feel unusual at first, your instructor will help you focus on your breath during this temporary discomfort.
What To Look For in a Beginner Yoga Class
When searching for the right beginner yoga class for you, the first step is to look for classes labeled as “Intro” or “Beginner,” or for class descriptions that specify that the class is for beginners or all levels. The Peloton App offers many beginner classes to get you started.
Some beginner yoga classes also use props more frequently than advanced classes. Look for class descriptions that mention blocks, bolsters, straps, or pillows; that’s a good clue they’re beginner-friendly.
Finally, consider the length of the class. A longer class (say, 60 to 90 minutes) may overwhelm you if you’re still new to the practice. Longer classes may also prove to be to much for your endurance if you’re a true yoga beginner. Shorter classes can give you a taste of the instructor and class style. More importantly, you’ll leave feeling pleasantly challenged but not drained—so you’ll be ready to come back ASAP.
What Is Slow Flow Yoga?
Slow flow yoga is an intentionally slower-paced class, aimed at helping beginners and those who want to deepen their understanding of yoga. You’ll stretch out holds in each pose, and you’ll typically do half the poses you would in a faster-paced class. The result: A more focused practice, deeper stretches, and a relaxed mindset in class.
Slow Flow vs. Vinyasa Yoga
In vinyasa yoga, the goal is to link each movement to your breath so you’re flowing in a controlled, patterned cadence. After a series of sun salutations, you’ll practice the main flow of the class with your instructor at a slow pace. Then, you’ll flow through a few more times at a faster pace, often with time to practice advanced movements. In slow flow yoga, meanwhile, you’ll hold each pose for several breaths for a much slower overall pace.
Slow Flow vs. Restorative Yoga
Restorative yoga doesn’t involve much actual flowing from pose to pose, while slow flow does (just at, you know, a slower pace). Restorative yoga poses can be held for much, much longer than slow flows, and you’ll use several props throughout class (some at the same time!). Also, slow flow classes involve standing poses, while restorative yoga classes typically don’t.
Slow Flow vs. Hatha Yoga
While both types of yoga prioritize balance and proper alignment, hatha yoga doesn’t involve truly flowing from one pose to the next. It may feel more disjointed than your “normal” yoga class.
Benefits of Slow Flow Yoga
What makes slow flow the best yoga for beginners? These are just a few of the benefits of slow flow yoga you’ll find on the mat.
Deeper Understanding of Each Movement
“The reality for most of us is that it takes a little while for the mind to navigate complex movements and activate hard to find muscles, so students often end up just ignoring the instructions,” says Ross Rayburn, Peloton Yoga Instructor.
On the other hand, when you’re encouraged to move slowly, you have more time to consider and act upon the instructions given—so you’ll never feel like you’re rushing in and out of poses.
And if you geek out on understanding exactly what’s happening in your body during yoga, slow flow for beginners might be a great fit. Ross points out that you’ll often leave slow flow yoga with a better biomechanical understanding of what happens during each pose.
Find Stillness in Your Busy Life
Additionally, slow flow yoga can bring a bit more of a chill vibe into the practice. Let’s face it, you’re probably already rushing around in your day-to-day life. In slow flow classes, yogis are able to calm their nervous systems and recenter their breath for a more balanced, relaxed experience.
Plus, you can incorporate self-reflection into your slow flow yoga practice. “This type of flow gives space for ‘“deeper’” yoga by accessing or realizing more of the instructions given and also deeper by having time to reflect and process what you are experiencing. “That processing and reflecting time is crucial to more deeply imprint the healthy patterns you can cultivate in your yoga practice,” continues Ross.
Improve Strength, Flexibility, and Stamina
Flashing from pose to pose in a power yoga class isn’t the only way to get a good workout. In fact, slow flow yoga is an ideal way for anyone (but especially beginners) to enjoy the physical benefits of yoga. Because you’re holding poses for longer, you’ll be able to build up your stamina and create a foundation for the rest of your yoga journey.
At the same time, you’ll build strength by challenging your muscles for longer periods of time. Finally, as you hold stretching poses for longer (hello, pigeon pose!), you’ll feel your flexibility improving with each class.
How Often Should Beginners Do Yoga?
While there’s no “exact” right amount, it’s important to commit to your new practice if you want to see the results. Ross recommends rolling out your mat as much as you want.
“If you’re someone who doesn’t like to go slow, probably best to do at least one slow flow every few weeks, to force some balance into your routine,” he says. “If slow flow is your jam, enjoy it as much as you like, but don’t forget about the regular flow classes and the power classes since they provide other important elements to your full fitness regimen.”