What is this word gentle of which you speak? Sweeney Yogini


Question: Excuse me, but is this yoga class gentle?

Answer: Perhaps you should tell me.

IMG_3464This question is something I hear all the time, I guess because I specialize in teaching therapeutics and people with injuries don’t want to find themselves in a class that is going to increase their pain level.  I totally understand this fear.  I too have experienced chronic physical pain and the last thing I want when I’m hurting is to make it worse.  This question IS confusing for a yoga teacher, however, because poses and practices I find incredibly gentle are vigorous to someone else. Is this just a matter of how “in shape” I am?  I don’t think so.  Let us explore this word gentle and see what we can find together.

crocus flowersGentle is a beautiful word. Take the adjective: “A person mild in temperament or behavior; kind or tender.” No doubt we all want a person like that to grace us in our life. Or perhaps the verb: “To calm or pacify.” That sounds good as well.  Who doesn’t want to bring peace to troubled times?  And I suspect we can all agree that gently is a wonderful way to be treated and a wonderful way to treat others. I wish I could be more gentle all the time with my kids, my boyfriend, my parents.  I will pray for the patience and wisdom to be gentler in my ways.

A Flower for You

A Flower for You

Gentle is a lot of things we want.  And I want to give it to you.  I really do.  The more I consider how to do that, the more I think gentle isn’t a yoga class. Maybe to find it in your yoga practice you must give it to yourself with a certain flowing, graceful tenderness.  I suspect gentle is a state of mind and you have to bring it with you and give it as a gift to yourself.

We are all so hard on ourselves. Don’t be.  If you are coming to yoga to find peace and tenderness, then bring it with you.  Then you will certainly find it there no matter what class you attend at Liberty Yoga.

kittens sleepingTo change your body, you need both forcefulness and tenderness. Yin and yang. My advice is to stretch your muscles in tenderness and to strengthen them in forcefulness.  The tender person will bring a suppleness to their muscles; they will pliantly soften and bend when needed.  You will not gain flexibility by being overly forceful with your muscles. The forceful person will be strong and powerful in their practice, this will bring strength and stamina to their body.  You will not gain stamina by being too tender with yourself. A healthy body needs both stamina and suppleness.

I ask you, please bring the gentleness with you to class.  You know you need it!  That’s the first step.  I will try to guide you into finding it inside yourself so that you may find a gentle yoga class to serve your needs every time you do yoga, no matter where you are.


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