Gentle Yoga

How many times do we focus so intently on something that we absorb tension into the body? We might be typing, painting, knitting, carrying bags, or maybe just having a tough conversation. I think this happens all the time and often without us even realizing it.

What is gentle yoga? Well our usual weekly class is a practice of Hatha Yoga, with a vinyasa (and flowing) component as well. In gentle yoga, the pace of class can slow down, leading to a very thoughtful approach to the postures, and perhaps a chance to work on our alignment, both mentally and physically. We may flow less, and hold each asana for more breaths.

Especially during the hot summer season, you may wish to work on stilling your energy, and cooling ourselves down through more respect given to the yin aspect of yoga is possible. The calmness, steady breathing, and peace of holding still in space and time should not be underestimated. This practice can energize us without overheating, and sooth us into letting go of any tension as our warm muscles feel loose and relaxed. It might also be tough at first.

One concept to really embrace when stretching gently is total relaxation of the body. As we approach a point of gentle tension in the muscles, we can pause here and focus on the breath. For example, if folding forward in staff pose (seated, with both legs together straight out in front of us), we can begin to pause and imagine the feet letting go, the calves, knees and backs of the thighs all simply unengaging, and feeling heavy. We do not want to push further at this point, in fact we might even ease back slightly or adjust the hips and back as needed. If this is practiced, I have had the experience of feeling a release in my legs. At this point it may be possible to gently stretch just a little further, moving very slowly and always easing back if any sort of pain is encountered. This has given me a feeling of relaxation, and I look forward to continuing to explore this aspect of yoga and stretching.


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