13 Aug Gentle is a Mindset, Not a Modification
Years ago when I created and launched the School of Gentle Yoga, I knew I was filling a much needed niche in the Yoga world. It was my own personal experience that allowed me to see that Yoga needed to be more inclusive and accessible.
After suffering a traumatic brain injury in 1996, I was left debilitated and depressed, wondering if I would ever regain my former quality of life. My nervous system was so disrupted by the trauma (I fell in my shower and broke a porcelain toilet with my head), that I lived for years in chronic pain, unable to do simple daily tasks like walk my dog or shop for groceries. I was not at all passive about my wellbeing. I tried anything and everything presented to me to reclaim my quality of life, and often was left worse for the experience.
Then one day an earth angel offered to teach me Gentle Yoga, as she too suffered from pain and trauma, and had benefited greatly from her regular practice.
That day and that 30-min experience forever changed my life.
My Yoga journey has not always been easy or welcoming. I had a difficult time finding teachers that understood and could accommodate a student with brain trauma. I was shamed by teachers and other students for not fitting the Western ideal of a yogi physically or in my ability. And I found that there was no standard or consistent measure for what defined a class as gentle.
As defined by the School of Gentle Yoga, gentle is a mindset not a modification.
So what does that mean?
- Gentle is learning to empower the function of a pose over a prescribed form.
- Gentle is learning to prioritize how you feel in your practice, verses how you look.
- Gentle is learning to individualize your expression and experience.
- Gentle is learning to embrace that there is not a right or a wrong way, there is simply your way.
For years the Yoga community has classified gentle practitioners as somehow separate and “less-than”, with cues like: If you cannot do this, try this. This attitude perpetuates that gentle practitioners are not TRUE practitioners.
With a gentle mindset, there is room for ALL practitioners.
Now, more than ever, the world needs a gentle presence and mindset.