As the name suggests, gentle yoga is a yoga style that focuses on gentle, manageable movements. While the traditional yoga you may be familiar with takes you through a range of movements and poses”
Gentle Yoga is a style of Yoga that focuses on a gentle style of movements and the aim of the yoga is to slow things down
―Melissa Anahana Wellness Instructor
The History of Gentle YogaWhat is a gentle yoga sequence? What is gentle yoga? What is nerve flossing?
As the name suggests, gentle yoga is a yoga style that focuses on gentle, manageable movements. While the traditional yoga you may be familiar with takes you through a range of movements and poses in relatively quick succession, the aim of gentle yoga is to slow things down.
For example, a gentle yoga sequence is a great slow flow yoga for beginners, excellent to do as chair yoga, and perfect for pain relief and stretching nerves if you struggle with chronic pain or irritated nerves (this is called nerve flossing).
Gentle flow yoga promotes calmness and stillness. It is also known as hatha flow or hatha yoga. You may also hear it referred to as restorative yoga. Poses tend to be held for longer periods of time.
What Is the History of Gentle Yoga or Hatha Flow Yoga?
In Sanskrit (the ancient language of Hinduism), hatha means force. This alludes to the forces that direct our lives — yin and yang, sun and moon, hard and soft. Hatha yoga was developed to balance these forces. It provides gentle yoga sequence exercises that help relax and align both the body and mind, essentially uniting otherwise opposing forces.
A Gentle Way to Pain Relief: Nerve Flossing
Nerve flossing is a term you’ll hear often when it comes to gentle yoga sequence exercises or hatha yoga. The goal of nerve flossing is to treat irritated nerves. This is often done with movements called nerve glides. At the same time, nerve flossing can also improve your range of motion and provide overall pain relief.
Often, those of us who work at desks for long hours, experiencing the accompanying strain and stiffness, will benefit most from gentle yoga that focuses on nerve flossing. The goal of nerve flossing exercises is to keep the muscles relaxed, use complementary deep breathing, and to go slowly — especially at first.
As you get started — whether you’re new to yoga or have taken classes before — having a certified yoga instructor to guide you is a great help.
Overall, nerve flossing will tend to engage your somatic nervous system. The somatic nervous system is:
“… a component of the peripheral nervous system associated with the voluntary control of the body movements via the use of skeletal muscles. It is responsible for all the functions we are aware of and can consciously influence, including the movement of our arms legs and other parts of our body.”
Examples of Nerve Flossing
Here are two examples of gentle yoga sequence exercises that focus on nerve flossing and pain relief. Always speak with your doctor before doing any type of exercise.
It’s best to have a professional yoga instructor guide you through these steps for safety and best practices.
- Femoral nerve glide
For the femoral nerve glide gentle yoga sequence, lay on your stomach on a yoga mat. Bend your elbows and place your arms up near your head and on the mat, relaxing your forehead on your hands.
Now, slowly bend one of your legs up toward your buttocks, keeping your thigh on the mat. Slow the bend to a stop as you start to feel the pain in your femoral nerve.
At this point, simultaneously lift your head up (slowly) as you start to lower your leg back down to the starting position. Repeat several times, taking care to move slowly and carefully. Then, move to the other leg.
- Cervical nerve glide
This is a good nerve glide if you have stiffness in the neck and upper back — a common occurrence for those who sit at a desk all day.
Start seated in a chair with your feet flat on the floor in front of you and your back straight. Take your right hand and place it behind your lower back. Relax your arms and neck on both sides but maintain a good posture.
Take your left hand and place it on the top of your head and slightly over on the right side. Very slowly and gently, pull your head down and to the left until you feel a stretch on the right side of your neck, then stop. You should feel the stretch from the base of your skull to your shoulder and upper back. Hold for a few counts, release, and repeat.
Benefits of the Gentle Yoga Sequence
Using gentle yoga sequence exercises on a regular basis can provide you with a range of benefits. In addition to stiffness and pain relief and improved range of motion, gentle yoga can also:
Why You Should Try Gentle Yoga
Gentle yoga is ideal for a wide range of individuals. But it can be especially advantageous for those who have a desk setup or work station that’s less than ideal for neck and back comfort. Whether you work from home or in an office, sitting all day is bound to cause spine and joint pain for most people.
Because of gentle yoga’s focus on the somatic nervous system, this pain and discomfort can disappear with regular gentle yoga sequence practice.
Just one streaming class or gentle yoga video can improve your pain and discomfort levels, help you develop your range of motion, and cultivate a sense of stillness that will last all day.
Frequently asked questions Gentle Yoga
What is the gentle yoga?
Gentle yoga is a yoga variation that focuses on modified poses for pain relief and improved range of motion. If you are a beginner to yoga or have been feeling out of shape as of late, use a gentle yoga sequence to get back in the game.
Gentle yoga is the perfect way to ease back into physical fitness and relieve pain and stiffness. The goal is stretching cranial nerves and other nerves in order to provide alternative gentle poses that are totally doable for yoga beginners and newcomers.
Is gentle yoga good for beginners?
Yes! In fact, gentle yoga is one of the best yoga variations for beginners because it offers soft modifications to traditional poses. Many people come to yoga because of problems with pain and discomfort — often in the back, neck, hips, and other joints.
This type of pain is exactly what gentle yoga aims to improve. Each pose is slow and gentle, as the name implies. Movements are doable no matter where you are on your fitness journey.
Does yoga count as an exercise?
Yoga is certainly a form of exercise. While it’s not usually considered “cardiovascular exercise” or even “aerobic exercise,” it’s still a type of movement that can improve your overall health and wellness.
Moreover, the particularly wonderful thing about each gentle yoga sequence is that gentle yoga can improve both your physical health and your mental health.
Would gentle yoga be considered as a good workout?
Gentle yoga is an excellent workout for those who are just beginning a wellness routine. If it’s been a while since you’ve worked out or if you find yourself at the very beginning of a new fitness journey, try a gentle yoga sequence.
Gentle yoga is also ideal for those who work behind a desk all day. If you tend to experience pain and stiffness from a sedentary job, gentle yoga could be your perfect solution.
Ready to begin? Start by chatting with a Wellness Advisor. You can select the date and time that works best for you. Your Advisor will speak with you in-depth to gain a full understanding of what you’re looking for in your in-home practice
Download Your FREE Gentle Yoga Guide!
Written by Hina Sheikh
Hina is the voice of Anahana! Not only does she write about yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and finding balance in life, she is our connector. Hina not only guides our global team of digital nomads to produce amazing educational content, she connects us to our community. She is our voice and ears for the relationships Anahana has with educational institutions, charities, and our fantastic business partners. Previously a corporate boss lady for one of the largest real estate owners in the world, Hina now lives in Nosara, Costa Rica with her pup Zen and likes to catch the odd wave when not taking care of business and the entire Anahana team!