Gentle yoga classes can include movements done at a slow pace and breathing exercises. It may also include longer holds and even have rest in between poses. Students often find that classes meditative style of yoga practice.
Gentle yoga classes can be an excellent option for seniors and beginners to explore the physical body. Gentle yoga can strengthen muscles and joints and improve flexibility despite the name.
Different Types of Yoga
Many types of yoga can be considered gentle yoga styles by different teachers. These styles might include yin, chair yoga, hatha yoga, Iyengar yoga, Nidra, and numerous other breathing techniques and types of meditation.
Yin yoga classes focus on deep stretches held for up to five minutes. This style of yoga can be great for improving passive flexibility. But it can also be challenging because the stretches can be uncomfortable.
When doing a yin yoga stretch, the main goal is to relax the muscles and stretch connective tissue. You may want to avoid this type of class very flexible or hyper-flexible, as it can overstretch and cause injuries.
Gentle or Restorative Yoga?
Restorative yoga is a style that can rely heavily on yoga props to support parts of the body so that muscles can relax and helps reduce stress. This style of yoga is extremely gentle, but its primary purpose is to help you relax and minimize stress.
It may be more helpful to think of gentle yoga as different from these styles of yoga.
With gentle yoga poses, the focus can be on slow and smooth movements into and out of a pose, whether working to improve flexibility, strength, or both.
Moving Slowly and Smoothly
A key element of gentle yoga can be moving slowly and smoothly, which can be difficult when you are also trying to synchronize movement and breath. And so, in gentle yoga, slow and smooth motion can be made easier by not worrying about your breathing. You may find that moving slowly and smoothly, your breathing naturally slows down.
Another key to gentle yoga can be repeated movements or actions. These can be especially beneficial if you lack coordination or think you lack body awareness. With simple repeated movements, you can recognize sensations within your body. This newfound sensitivity can provide a basis for better coordination and body awareness.
Isolating Body Parts For Better Body Awareness
Depending on the teacher, in a gentle yoga class, you may practice isolated movements to help with improving coordination and body awareness.
These types of isolated movements may have similar benefits to nerve flossing. Nerve flossing is a movement that helps relieve pain or discomfort associated with compressed or irritated nerves. These types of actions can reduce pain. They can also improve coordination, body awareness and range of motion, and flexibility.
Taking a queue from Tai Chi, gentle yoga offers the opportunity to improve your balance through simple weight-shifting exercises. With gentle yoga poses, you can learn to feel your body’s center of gravity and how it relates to your foundation.
Tuning into your somatic nervous system
The somatic nervous system allows us to feel our body and control it. Gentle yoga postures and exercises can enable us to tap into this system and improve our ability to feel and control our bodies consciously.
We can thus use gentle yoga to reprogram our bodies to move better.
Sinking into the Present Moment
Some people like to do vinyasa or other more active styles of yoga to help turn off their thinking minds. The constant movement with a focus on bandhas and moving in sync with the breath helps to bring them into the present moment.
With gentle yoga, you may find that you can become present by focusing on your breath or by focusing on isolated parts of your body.
Another way that you can be present is by focusing on the quality of your movement. If you have limited mobility, you can try to slow down further. You may find that you then have the space to explore the end range of a joint.
Rather than thinking and focusing on the idea that you are at your limit, you can gently and gradually explore, looking for simple adjustments that allow you to go slightly deeper.
Benefits of Doing A Gentle Yoga Practice
Gentle yoga is an excellent style of yoga if you are a senior or are otherwise new to doing yoga or any sort of exercise or movement practice. It helps you increase your strength and flexibility, and you can tailor it to your needs and ability.
You can take it slow and do poses and exercises according to your abilities. You can gently move towards increasing strength, range of motion, and flexibility.
The practice can be especially beneficial if you spend a lot of time at your desk or in front of a computer, positions that can cause both neck and back discomfort. It can help you recover from the harmful effects of sitting and or leaning your head forwards, enabling you to bring more awareness to these simple activities.
Potential Health Benefits
Gentle yoga also has numerous potential health benefits, even for a beginner.
GENTLE YOGA: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS GENTLE YOGA?
Gentle yoga is a yoga variation that can include slow and smooth exercises and movements to improve body awareness and range of motion. Gentle yoga may also help with relieving some types of pain.
IS GENTLE YOGA GOOD FOR BEGINNERS?
A gentle yoga class can be suitable for beginners. It can be a great way to learn to feel better and control the body, and it offers a chance to get comfortable in your body while doing yoga. Some people who are new to yoga may benefit from a busier or more active form of yoga, such as vinyasa or ashtanga.
DOES YOGA COUNT AS AN EXERCISE?
Yoga is a form of exercise. While not necessarily a “cardiovascular” or “aerobic exercise,” it’s a practice that you can use to improve body awareness, well-being, and mental health.
It can also help activate the relaxation response, which is great if you rarely relax or have difficulty relaxing.
WOULD GENTLE YOGA BE CONSIDERED A GOOD WORKOUT?
With gentle yoga classes, the focus can be on slow and smooth movements. You can ramp up gentle yoga gently to work towards positions that strengthen your body or improve flexibility. You may find that you aren’t so sweaty after a gentle yoga session. But you can end up feeling refreshed or even energized. And so, you could consider gentle yoga to be a workout.
CAN I DO GENTLE YOGA FROM HOME?
You can practice gentle yoga at home. You may be able to learn some poses and actions from a book. However, a better resource would be videos or online classes to get a better feel for how to do the movements and, more importantly, the slowness and smoothness of the actions or exercises.