How to Teach Gentle Yoga

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    • 1). Make sure that you warm up your yoga students. This can be the downfall of a gentle yoga class. Gentle should not mean that students do not need to be challenged with some heat building vinyasas (especially in the beginning).

      To get yoga students warmed up, you could start with a Cat/Cow flow then move into modified Sun Salutations. Use Kneeling Plank and Cobra instead of Full Plank and Up Dog. Give students the option of moving from Cobra into Child's Pose instead of going right into Downward Facing Dog.

      For an even more gentle yoga class, try flowing through several rounds of Chair or moving from standing into Forward Fold, then back up for 5 or 7 rounds.

    • 2). Teach your regular yoga class with the harder variations taken out. This is one of the most simple ways to come up with a gentle yoga class. For example, instead of full side planks, use kneeling side planks (note: hand could come to a block). Instead of Side Angle with your hand on the inside of your foot, keep the elbow on the inner thigh.

    • 3). Focus on deeper stretching poses like Butterfly, Forward Fold, Modified Pigeons and straddle variations. Many yoga students go to a gentle yoga class in search of relaxing stretches held for a long time. Again, just be sure to warm your students up first so they do not pull muscles!

    • 4). Spend a longer time in opening meditation in the beginning and Relaxation at the end. Yoga students do not necessarily expect to get up to 10 minutes of Savasana at the end of a power yoga class, but they probably will for a gentle yoga one.

    • 5). Look out for yoga students who might be challenged by a chronic condition or an injury. Gentle yoga should be a welcoming place for pregnant students, seniors or anyone else needing some modifications or a softer yoga practice.

      Encourage students to place a hand on any part of the body that might cause challenges for them while they have their heads' down in Child's Pose somewhere in the beginning of your gentle yoga class. You can also try to speak to new students when they walk through the door and gather up information about them then.

    • 6). Offer yoga equipment to students. Encourage them to use blocks when they are reaching towards the floor in Triangles and Forward Folds, or to place between the thighs in Bridge pose. Props like bolsters, wedges and straps can also make a student more comfortable in a gentle yoga class. (See resource links.)

    • 7). Try not to spend too much time in challenging poses that place tension on the back, hands or other parts of the body. If you want to sequence a class around Downward Facing Dog, for example, then be sure to tell students that they can come to Child's Pose whenever they want, or to put their elbows on the floor (Dolphin Pose) instead of their hands.

      Poses that might be too much for too long (for example) in a gentle yoga class are:
      Warrior III
      Downward Facing Dog
      Crescent Lunges
      Balance Poses
      Side Plank
      Incline Plank
      Shoulder Stand

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