I love Gentle Yoga.
Nothing against power flows, vinyasa yoga, and even the dreaded Bikram. I love Ashtanga as well, especially when I want to feel strong and fierce, I bust out with pride during my Chaturanga and Warrior I. I am fond of breaking into some Budokon, when I want to improve balance and roll from my Plow to Crow, and be a Flying Warrior.
For these strength building, power inducing Yoga practices I am very grateful. They help define the muscles in my arms, pleasing my vanity. They make me feel confident and young and give me goals and keep me strong. My balance puts up a hell of a fight with gravity and makes me feel like a superhero.
But my heart belongs to Gentle Yoga.
Gentle is where I want to be every day. I want to revel in the comfort of a Child’s Pose and feel the sweet release of a gentle Twist in Easy Pose, and melt into a tension eradicating Side Bend, and lose myself into a core strong Forward Fold, with a slight bend in my knees and elbows. Shaking my head “no” to the tension and nodding my head “yes” to the release.
Ahhhh, gentle yoga. Only Cobras, never Updogs. Lying on my back for the majority of my practice. That’s my kind of Yoga!
My vanity and pride have no place in my Gentle Practice. I do not compete or strive or challenge. I just am. I place my body where it needs, where it wants to be. My body just happens to want to be in relaxation, in a soothing, peaceful meditative state, with COMFORT as it’s main focus.
I even encourage a Yoga practice that consists of lying on the floor comfortably for the entire time without movement! Just comfort. Just be, and release. Get used to being with yourself and find out that the peace and tranquility that you desire is found within. Put a blanket under your knees and behind your head. Find your COMFORT, embrace your “Me Time”, encourage your relaxation. There is no harm in it. It benefits you. It is not lazy, it is nurturing.
Do a google search on “Yoga Nidra”. Think of the Corpse Pose (Savasana) that we do at the end of Yoga Class. Feel every body part relax one by one.
Now, my Gentle Yoga practice is a little more than just lying on my mat for an hour. It consists of laying down, but doing spinal twists, we can do modified sun salutations, we can be Gentle Warriors and go to Side Bend City. We can be a Locust and become a Boat. I need movement, I crave it and it relaxes me. It is all about finding out what floats your boat.
Gentle Yoga is my calling and is my heart. Gentle Yoga is what I teach, talk about and encourage. I do not know how many years left I will be able to Side crow and do the Fallen Angel, and next week I’m going to try to Eight Angle myself. If I can do it, it will be on facebook. Is that showing off, or pride, or a celebration of myself? It is whatever you perceive it to be. I will look at it with a sense of accomplishment. Facebook can be a place for bragging and self esteem craving, and it can also be a wonderful inspirational place, that encourages positivity and breeds healthy connections. You get to choose what it is for you.
Even though Power Yoga muscle-fies me and gives me the ability to walk a tightrope (that’s NEVER going to happen), it also starts a fire in my competitiveness and feeds my ego. I think about the people a Yoga class, who look over at the person next to them and want to do better than them. We all feel it.
Let’s try to squash that and just concentrate on ourselves.
When I walked out of a Hot Yoga class last month because of the sickening heat, I didn’t feel bad. I felt empowered that I KNOW what is good for my body and I know what is right for me and I HONOR that.
I know you cannot know what you can do, until you try it. When starting a new or challenging pose, you have to take a leap of faith. A friend of mine probably had no idea that she could stand on her head until she tried it. I, personally don’t do headstands and I can only do Cow Face Pose with a strap.
There is no shame in not doing or not being able to do all yoga poses.
There is honor in knowing what yoga poses are right for you.
You may have to try them all to find out, or you can just look at them and be like “No way I am putting my foot behind my head.”
That is OK. In fact, everything is OK. The glory is just being YOU. Find out what you can do and what you want and like to do. No one is forcing you to Crane or Crow. Be the awesome you, roll up a blankie, put it under your knees and lay down on your mat. Guess what? You are now a Yogi Master and you don’t even have to get up.
That’s my Yoga, baby! What yours?