Gentle Yoga Could Be the Comfortable Workout Routine Your Body Is Looking For

Gentle yoga can be a great way to reconnect with your body.

Kori Williams - Author

May 28 2024, Published 10:26 a.m. ET

A group of women in a yoga class posing.
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Yoga is a thousand-year-old wellness practice that has steadily gained popularity in America. Many have flocked to it for the spiritual and physical health benefits it provides. Plus, classes can be a great way to meet new people and develop skills in a way that works best for you and your needs.

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One of the reasons yoga is popular is thanks to the different types available. Some are more difficult than others, but there is one you may have heard of before. Gentle yoga is a great way to get your body moving without too much strain. Here's what gentle yoga is and how to figure out if it's the right move for you.

Women in a yoga class.
Source: iStock
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What is gentle yoga?

Peloton says that gentle yoga is described as either one of two things: a less strenuous version of the standard practice or something that's also known as restorative yoga. In the former, Peloton instructor Kristin McGee told the brand's blog that the movements are very beginner-friendly. And it "focuses on slow, thoughtful movements."

In restorative yoga, your body's rest is the focus. "Restorative yoga aims to create the conditions for you to be able to truly rest," said Peloton instructor Aditi Shah to the brand's blog. With this method, you are supposed to try and connect with your parasympathetic nervous system.

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A woman posing on a yoga mat.
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According to the Hospital for Special Surgery, the parasympathetic nervous system, a.k.a. your "rest and digest" state, is a part of the autonomic nervous system. It helps control your body's ability to relax and the different functions that keep your body relaxed, including your:

  • metabolism
  • resting bronchial constriction
  • resting heart rate — This last one affects how you breathe when you are relaxed.
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For many, gentle yoga has all kinds of benefits like reducing stress, getting better sleep, and improving your flexibility and balance. And since it's so accessible, it can be enjoyed by many more people than traditional yoga.

A mother and daughter doing yoga together indoors.
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What are the different types of yoga?

If gentle yoga isn't your thing, you have options. Countless kinds have been developed over the thousands of years yoga has been around, but The Cleveland Clinic says there are seven popular kinds of yoga, and they each have their own benefits.

Here are your options in no particular order:

  • Ashtanga yoga
  • Bikram and Hot yoga
  • Hatha yoga
  • Iyengar yoga
  • Power yoga
  • Restorative and Yin yoga
  • Vinyasa or Flow yoga

Although some of these types of yoga are grouped with similar versions, these all have different goals for the mind and body. If you're interested in trying any type of yoga for yourself, consider speaking to a pro to get a feel for all of them and their pros and cons.

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People sitting on grass in an outdoor yoga class.
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Here are a few tips to determine what kind of yoga is best for you.

According to WebMD, it's best to pick a type of yoga that works well with your personality and goals. Are you looking to get stronger? Work on your balance? To have a deeper mind and body connection? Are you looking for a more spiritual experience? Certain types of yoga are better for these different aspects than others.

Also, consider any physical limitations you may have when choosing a type of yoga to practice. For example, an old injury could flare up because of certain poses or a type of yoga that's too intense for your body. To be safe, always check in with your doctor or a medical professional before doing any new exercise.

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