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Yoga Essentials: What is Gentle Yoga | by Tara Charney

Gentle yoga is a hidden gem of a yoga style. Not only is it appropriate for a wide spectrum of practitioners, contrary to popular belief, a gentle class isn’t necessarily an “easy” one. It does move at a slow and steady pace. Poses are primarily floor-based, reclined or seated with few, if any, standing postures. In general, you will hold the shape for a short or moderate length, of time, or move fluidly with breath, all with props available for assistance. You will work, but at a low-intensity level.

A gentle class is also different from a restorative yoga class. In the latter, poses are entirely floor-based (or done on the chair), and are held for a long time, perhaps 5 minutes per pose. Your body is propped abundantly to tht you can completely relax into the shape of the pose. Gentle yoga has a greater degree of physical participation, a/k/a movement. You will stretch in both a gentle yoga class and a restorative one, and both will induce a sense of peaceful well-being.

For beginners, a gentle class is a wonderful alternative to Yoga Basics or Ganesha Plus. The slow pace creates an accessible environment for students with less yoga experience. That said, continuing yogis will also benefit from a gentle class. As long-time yogis, we seek to refine poses bit by bit, and the more deliberate rate of gentle yoga can lead to new insights. And let’s face it, we all have days we aren’t at our peak for any variety of reasons. A more introspective practice might be what is best for our body and spirit that day.

Gentle yoga is good for active students, as well as students with limited mobility or pregnant students, and it’s friendly to any body size or fitness level. While you should consult your medical practitioner, listen to your own body, and do what feels right, the pace of a gentle class is accessible to most students.

Evening is a wonderful time to practice more quietly. The rhythm of the day lends itself to going inward when darkness falls, soothing the mind and preparing the body for a deep, sound rest. Many students report sleeping better on the days they practice yoga. Gentle yoga is a lovely way to begin the journey to sweet dreams.

While we don’t have a class titled “gentle yoga” on the schedule right now, Somatic Yoga and Ganesha Rx are both classes that fit the description. Join us on Sundays at 9:00am for Somatic Yoga, and Mondays at 10:30a, Wednesdays at noon, or Saturdays at 11:30a for Ganesha Rx.

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