Gentle Yoga

Whenever I suggest yoga to family, I always get the same type of replies. “I’m too old for that,” my mom told me, (even though many people often think she is only in her thirties.) “Can you really seeing me doing that?” my dad, who has suffered from stiffness and soreness for years, asked as he walked out of the living room. I know it would be nearly impossible to convince my dad to try a yoga class, even though I know he would benefit from one.

The general consensus (at least in my family) is that yoga is only for people who are young, in shape and who have no physical limitations, and while some  yoga classes, such as Power Yoga, might not be for everyone,  Gentle Yoga helps make yoga accessible to everyone, no matter age, shape, fitness level or physical limitations.

Rudy Peirce, a certified yoga teacher who has been practicing yoga since 1973 and currently teaches Gentle Yoga, says, “Gentle Yoga is often considered easier, less intense, non-strenuous, minimalistic, quiet, meditative, or restorative.” He describes Gentle Yoga classes for “those who want a softer, nurturing, slow-paced, well-supported and relaxing practice.”

Peirce says, “Postures may be approached in gradual steps, with plenty of time to focus on breathing and repetition so that the practice is simple to do and easy to remember. A gentle yoga style encourages a highly individualized approach to practice with on-going encouragement to make moment-to-moment adjustments.”

While you should always talk to your doctor before starting any type of exercise plan, especially if you have any physical limitations or have had previous issues, Gentle Yoga is just that, gentle and anyone, even a more seasoned yogi, can benefit from a class.

Know the class before you go – Gentle yoga classes can go by a variety of names so look for classes with names such as Gentle Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Yoga Light, etc. Most class schedules include class descriptions, but if you’re still unsure if the class is for you, talk to the teacher before trying out the class (Don’t head to the class and hope for the best!). Discussing your concerns and/or limitations beforehand can help alleviate any concerns or worries you might have.

Make use of any props that can help you – In “Restorative Yoga,” Claudia Cummins, a yoga teacher in Ohio, says “Don’t skimp on the props. Blocks, straps, blankets, balls, towels, chairs, walls, sandbags, eye bags, and pillows are all considered fair game…The more fully your body is supported, the deeper your sense of relaxation and surrender will be.” Feel free to grab any prop you think might help and if you find yourself, half way through a class and needing a prop, ask the teacher. Most will happily bring over whatever you need at anytime during the class.

Ask for modifications  – If at any time, a posture doesn’t feel right, isn’t accessible to you or in any way hurts, ask the teacher for a modification. There is always a modification for any pose/posture and many teachers often suggest modifications throughout the class. Listen to your body and don’t worry about what everyone in the class is doing.

References:

Peirce, Rudy. “What is Gentle Yoga?” Gentle Yoga with Rudy Peirce. 2010. Web. 2012 Nov 3. < http://rudypeirce.com/what-is-gentle-yoga/>

Cummins, Claudia. “Restorative Yoga.” Yoga Journal. 2012. Web. 2012 Nov 3. < http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/991&gt;

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