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What Is Gentle Yoga?

Because gentle yoga is less strenuous than regular yoga, it is recommend for pregnant woman who may still want to work out.
The elderly can benefit from practicing gentle yoga without pushing themselves too hard.
A woman doing gentle yoga.
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  • Written By: D. Messmer
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2014
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Gentle yoga is a style of yoga that is far less strenuous than other forms. It is less intense, so it can be very useful for people who are not capable of fulfilling the demands of other practices, such as seniors, women who are pregnant, practitioners who are recovering from injury, those who are in very poor physical condition, or even those who are simply looking for a more relaxed workout. This practice can also be beneficial to those who already are quite fit but who lack the overall flexibility to be able to do some of the more intense yoga poses.

The way that gentle yoga works without putting any unnecessary strain on the practitioner is by using modifications of standard hatha yoga poses. Sometimes, this simply means that the yogi does not go as deep into a specific posture as he or she otherwise would. For instance, when performing a warrior pose, a practitioner will keep the feet slightly closer together, so that the front leg does not have to bend all the way down to a 90° angle. As a result, this pose puts less strain on the thigh muscles and is easier to perform.

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Other poses require more extreme forms of modification in order for them to be appropriate for gentle practice. For instance, when performing Purvottanasana, a yogi will perform a variant of the pose rather than simply lowering the intensity of the usual one. To perform this particular pose, he or she usually would balance on one leg while holding onto the big toe of the other leg, which he or she would straighten before bending the body toward the raised knee. A practitioner of gentle yoga, by contrast, simply would balance on one leg while holding the other in the air with a bent knee. The yogi would then use the hands to hold the knee in order to provide more support.

In addition to reducing the intensity of a yoga practice by simplifying some of the poses, this practice also maintains a much more relaxed pace than many other styles. It rarely makes use of Vinyasa techniques that synchronize motions with the body's breath, because they tend to lead to a sustained physical workout. Also, the practice tends to allow its practitioners to take more time between poses in order to allow the body to recover.

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Discuss this Article

anon943202
Post 3

In my gentle yoga class, there are seniors, people with disabilities, people recovering from illness or surgery and others who cannot do other forms of yoga. I have fatigue, thin bones, liver damage and dizziness from a brain tumor. This class helps me by lowering stress, building my core muscles, improving balance and helps me with being able to get out of my home to be with other people.

Kat919
Post 2

@ElizaBennett - I think you're right about pregnancy. I was able to do a pretty intense yoga workout while I was pregnant but there were a lot of poses I couldn't do just because of the weight of the belly.

If you're interested in yoga for weight loss, gentle yoga is only going to be helpful if you're just getting started and haven't been active. It's a great place to start getting off your couch. After a few weeks or months, once you're loosened up and more comfortable with moving around, you'll want to "graduate" to a more advanced class (some places call this "power yoga" or something similar) and really get moving.

ElizaBennett
Post 1

Gentle yoga classes are wonderful for anyone who's trying to get active again after an injury, illness, pregnancy, etc. The wonderful thing about yoga is that you can really feel your body working as it should, getting in alignment, getting stronger and more flexible.

I really liked gentle yoga when I was recovering from my c-section, especially because I hadn't been as active as I should have during pregnancy. I'm not sure I would recommend it for a physically fit pregnant woman, though--there are some flat-on-your-back poses that she wouldn't be able to do.

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