What is Gentle Yoga?

Our lives are already so fast-paced, so why should your yoga class be that way too?

In a gentle yoga class, you can truly focus on unwinding your body and relaxing your mind while improving your physical health at the same time.

Nearly any other style of yoga can also be converted into a gentle yoga class simply by slowing it down and focusing on the seated poses.

Bringing some gentleness into your yoga practice can do wonders for your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Definition of Gentle Yoga

Gentle yoga is a softer or milder form of yoga practice that focuses on slow movements, stretching, and breath awareness.

You will hardly ever find strength training or exercises for extreme flexibility in these classes. But there is still movement involved, unlike restorative yoga or yin yoga which are completely static or may not even include standing up on your yoga mat.

Gentle yoga can undoubtedly be restorative in nature. Still, it often involves active standing poses, such as forward bends, backbends, and maybe even a slow version of the sun salutation. Gentle yoga classes are often a hybrid of hatha yoga and vinyasa yoga. You incorporate the slowness of hatha yoga but with the flowing movement of a vinyasa class. Another synonym for gentle yoga is “slow flow.”

There are also some other yoga styles that are particularly focused on a gentle yoga approach, such as Integral yoga, Kripalu yoga, and Sivananda yoga. Gentle yoga practices are also often the primary focus for chair yoga and yoga for seniors. Gentle yoga is an accessible and adaptive style of yoga that is excellent for beginners to explore the world of yoga.

What a gentle yoga class looks like largely depends on the teacher or the style that it originates out of. Almost any type can be adapted for a gentler approach, so it is important to talk to the teacher or your local studio to get more information on what gentle yoga means to them.

Benefits of Gentle Yoga

Gentle yoga is a particularly therapeutic practice because of the slow and mindful movement process. There is a higher likelihood of injury in more fast or active classes. That is why gentle yoga is often recommended for people in recovery from illness or injury, have chronic health issues, or are older.

But gentle yoga is truly beneficial for everyone!

The primary benefits of gentle yoga may include:

  • Increase flexibility and range of motion
  • Relax the mind and reduce stress
  • Calm the nervous system
  • Increase focus and concentration
  • Improve digestion
  • Enhance injury and chronic pain recovery
  • Reduce insomnia and sleep issues
  • Decrease rumination and anxiety
  • Relieve depression and mental health
  • Promote weight loss
  • Improve mind-body awareness
  • Decrease muscle tension
  • Improve injury and illness recovery

Gentle yoga is an excellent practice for people of all ages and abilities.

But it is particularly beneficial for beginners, seniors, pregnant women, larger-bodied students, students recovering from surgery, chemotherapy, chronic health issues, or injuries, and anyone seeking a mindful, slow, or meditative practice.

The Top 5 Gentle Yoga Poses

Gentle yoga is an inclusive or adaptive yoga practice accessible to all bodies, abilities, and phases of life. This practice is particularly beneficial for anyone recovering from an injury or if you need restoration after a long week.

The primary difference between other yoga styles and gentle yoga is the focus on incorporating props to support the body.

Some popular gentle yoga poses include:

  1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
  2. Reclined Butterfly Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
  3. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
  4. Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
  5. Standing Forward Fold Pose – Rag Doll Variation (Uttanasana)

Although these yoga poses are also used in other yoga styles, the main difference in gentle yoga is the increased incorporation of props to support the body and the focus on the breath to relax the mind.

Additionally, gentle yoga poses are not always seated, and standing poses such as the warrior poses or even a downward-facing dog may be incorporated into a gentle yoga class.

How to Practice Gentle Yoga

Gentle yoga is an adaptive, inclusive, and supportive style of yoga. As a slow and relaxing yoga practice, gentle yoga provides all people with a chance to relax their minds and rejuvenate their bodies. There are many different ways to practice gentle yoga, and it largely depends on the tradition, lineage, or unique style of the teacher.

Generally, a gentle yoga class will include slow movements, breathing practices, and meditation. Standing poses are included, but they typically include more props and are less active or difficult than those practiced in other yoga classes.  

Gentle yoga can also include yoga styles such as chair yoga, Iyengar yoga, prenatal yoga, Kripalu yoga, Sivananda yoga, Integral yoga, hatha yoga, yin yoga, and restorative yoga. These yoga styles share a common element of slow movement with breath awareness, providing a wonderfully relaxing experience for all people.

Start Gentle Yoga at Home

Gentle yoga is an excellent practice to do at home because it is considered one of the safest yoga styles. The slow and gentle movements in these yoga practices will ensure that you don’t overextend or get an accidental injury.

So, if you can’t make it to a gentle yoga studio, or perhaps you simply want to try gentle yoga at home first, check out these follow-along videos below!

Related: Short Gentle Yoga Flow Sequence for a Calm Nervous System

Gentle Yoga Flow Sequence (10-Minute Routine)

Gentle Yoga Flow – 30-Minute All Levels Yoga Class

Gentle Yoga – 25 Minute Morning Yoga Sequence – Yoga With Adriene

Gentle 45 Minute Tropical Yoga Class – Five Parks Yoga

Gentle Yoga FAQs

Is Gentle Yoga Good for Beginners?

Gentle yoga is one of the best yoga styles for beginners due to its slower speed. It is easier for beginners to learn the foundational yoga poses and find an alignment that feels good for them in this yoga style. Beginners to yoga practice may also have tighter muscles or reduced flexibility. In a gentle yoga class, they can find the support their body needs to feel comfortable in their yoga practice.

Is Gentle Yoga the Same as Restorative Yoga?

Although gentle yoga and restorative yoga are both slower rejuvenating practices, they have some crucial differences. Restorative yoga involves holding poses for five to ten minutes, whereas there may be shorter holds and more active postures in a gentle yoga class. Also, in a restorative yoga class, you will never see a standing pose, whereas gentle yoga does include some standing postures.  

What Type of Yoga is Best for Seniors?

Gentle yoga is one of the best yoga styles for seniors. Gentle yoga practices are slower and often more accessible to people of all ages and physical abilities. Gentle yoga may also include chair yoga practices, which is another excellent yoga practice for seniors.

Important: Check with your doctor before trying Gentle Yoga for the first time if you have any type of injury, illness, pain, or you are pregnant.

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