Gentle yoga is a variation of Hatha Yoga. The beauty of gentle yoga is that it is appropriate for everyone, no matter your age or level of yoga experience. (It will even be good for you if you have never tried yoga before!) However, that does not mean that gentle yoga will necessarily be easy for everyone, either. The intensity in a gentle yoga class is reduced. However, the commitment and focus of a gentle yoga class can still be demanding.
Many yoga students compare the feeling they get after a gentle yoga class to the feeling they have after a wonderful massage! Gentle yoga is a workout, but it is also relaxing.
Have you ever thought about starting to practice yoga, but hesitated for any reason? Perhaps your fitness level, age, strength, or an injury gave you pause. In that case, gentle yoga is likely to be the answer for you. Unfortunately, many people never begin taking yoga classes because they are too intimidated. Gentle yoga is meant to be for everyone, and inclusive no matter your skill level, age, or physical ability.
What is Gentle Yoga?
Gentle yoga was created to be accessible to every kind of student and support their needs, whether it be physically, mentally, or spiritually. Gentle yoga is inclusive, and not at all competitive. It is derived from Hatha yoga, which is the fundamental system of yoga.
A gentle yoga class moves at a steady space and cycles slowly through a series of floor-based or seated asanas. (Though there may still be a few standing poses, too!) However, you can expect to spend the majority of your gentle yoga class on your mat on the floor of the yoga studio. Some people that are not in their 20s anymore find that they enjoy gentle yoga classes and that the classes are suited to their pace.
The purpose of gentle yoga is to provide therapeutic modifications to common yoga poses. This kind of yoga helps increase your mobility and flexibility in a slow well-rounded approach. It is meant to suit everyone, no matter what your limitations might be. Everyone is welcome in a gentle yoga class.
Gentle Yoga Description: Is It for Me?
Gentle yoga is generally considered to be easier, less intense, non-strenuous, and minimalistic. Other times it may be considered to be for only certain types of yogis: for beginners; for those who have limited movement, like arthritis; or for those who are recovering from surgery or illness. Some of those things can be true! But gentle yoga is for anyone who is looking to practice yoga.
This kind of yoga is typically for anyone who wants a softer, more nurturing, slow-paced practice. The approach to gentle yoga includes carefully orchestrated movements, controlled pressure, and plenty of stretching, including range of motion exercises.
You might benefit from gentle yoga classes if you are:
- Someone who has a low level of fitness, flexibility, or strength;
- A beginner who is looking for a gentle and easier way to start yoga practice;
- Anyone who suffers from health issues like stiffness, arthritis, or other chronic health conditions;
- A pregnant woman (though prenatal yoga classes are available, too!);
- Someone who is may have limited mobility due to a range of factors;
- An athlete recovering from an injury;
- A patient recovering from surgery; or
- Anyone at all who is looking in a yoga class that is beneficial and gentle for their mind, body and spirit.
If you are genuinely concerned about your readiness to practice gentle yoga, talk to your doctor before coming to your first class and make sure they give you the all-clear.
Benefits of Gentle Yoga
Why should you practice gentle yoga? Many of the benefits of gentle yoga are similar to those of doing any other kind of yoga. There are several benefits to practicing gentle yoga, including but not limited to the following. Gentle yoga:
- Strengthens your body;
- Improves your flexibility and balance;
- Increases your energy and stamina;
- Provides better recovery from injuries and soreness;
- Increases your mind-body awareness;
- Relieves stress; and
- Has a calming and relaxing effect.
Additionally, gentle yoga improves your range of motion, loosens your joints, and encourages calmness and relaxation. Gentle yoga will strengthen, protect, and nurture the parts of your body you might be worried about injuring, like your joints, muscles, and connective tissues, without you having to worry.
Gentle yoga is even helpful in soothing and balancing your digestive and nervous systems. The slow, rhythmic motions of gentle yoga have been shown to settle your nerves. It has also been shown to improve sleep! Many yogis love to end their work week with a gentle yoga class to wind down and relax after a busy week.
Last but not least, going through the process of mastering a new skill like gentle yoga helps you feel more happy and confident in yourself.
What to Expect in a Gentle Yoga Class?
A gentle yoga class is generally low-intensity and restorative. It combines both stationary and movement-based yoga poses. Individual poses are only held for a short or medium amount of time. The yoga instructor will likely focus on gentle stretching and strengthening and improving your balance.
Each student can take as long as they need to do a certain pose, and there is no pressure to finish and move to the next pose. A main focus of most gentle yoga classes is helping students develop awareness of their bodies and the ability to relax into their practice. The ultimate goal is to help students develop a profound enjoyment of yoga practice and its benefits.
In a gentle yoga class, the energy should be happy and calm, with an inclusive and not at all competitive atmosphere. Gentle yoga should be restorative and nurturing.
If necessary, there should be props available to support different poses and sequences, if you need additional help.
What are Some Gentle Yoga Poses?
The following are a few poses you can expect to perform in a gentle yoga class:
In the child’s pose, you start on all fours with your hands on your shoulders and your knees slightly wider than hip’s width apart. When you exhale, gently push back to rest on your heels. Then, walk your fingertips forward to provide a gentle stretch. Rest your forehead on the ground, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing.
In happy baby pose, you start out laying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, then bring them into your chest. With your knees in the air, bring your legs wider than your hips, with your feet flexing back towards you. Then, grab your toes or sides of your feet with your hands and gently pull your legs toward the ground.
Start lying on the ground and allow your arms and legs to fall into loose, comfortable positions. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Release any tension in your body and allow your mind and body to let go and relax as much as possible.
Gentle Yoga Near Me
Do you think you are ready to give gentle yoga a try? If you are looking for a gentle yoga class near you, you should be able to find one easily! At Yoga Now Chicago, we offer gentle yoga classes. Once you have tried a gentle yoga class, you might find that you are ready to move on to other yoga classes. Who knows, you might even find yourself inspired to become a yoga instructor! For more information about getting started with gentle yoga, contact us today.