This week we start some therapeutic classes. You may wonder if that is the same as a gentle class. And what about restorative. Are these the same class but just different names?
Gentle and Restorative classes are in fact therapeutic, but the approach differs.
Gentle classes are just what they sound like- gentle and slow movements. Along with the encouragement to not use force, students are also directed to focus on the breath, offered pauses in between poses to do a self check and to see how they are feeling, and enjoy a long relaxation. Restorative Yoga uses props to support the body in relaxing and passive poses. These poses are held for longer, often with closed eyes. Participants are encouraged to drop their body weight into the props and ground, relax their minds, and practice just being. Both of these approaches help to restore prana (or energy) and restore vitality, and reset the nervous system. These classes help to increase range of motion through relaxing the body, so it works well for people who feel they carry a lot of tension which is a big factor in restricted motion. Many people will find relaxing into the environment created in these classes a natural progression and appreciate being given the steps, and permission, to just let go.
Therapeutic and Structural Yoga Therapy classes are more active. In these classes participants are encouraged to notice the difference in strength and flexibility from side to side, or front to back. Then movements are practiced that help to even out the asymmetry or lack of movement. This class tends to focus more on strengthening movements, being very specific to areas in the body that require increased range of motion. Students are encouraged to keep noticing what is happening in their body, what they are feeling, and what muscles are working. Regular students become quite versed in anatomy, more so than many yoga teachers! The classes tend to be smaller in size, and as a result students can request what they want to work on in that class. (For example we worked a lot on neck and shoulders this past Sunday in Frenchtown. It was an almost unanimous request, and that included my vote too.) The therapeutic classes tend to increase range of motion by strengthening and stretching agonist and antagonist pairs of muscles. Prana is also deeply affected in a positive way. People who have analytical minds may find the concentration in these types of classes relaxing as their minds are not left to wander, but instead have a specific focus.
These classes do not use rigorous flowing standing sequences as part of the class structure. This “vinyasa” (meaning to place specifically, or moving from one place to another) methodology is found in our basic, moderate and spicy flow classes.
What about the term Hatha yoga? People often tell me that took “Hatha” yoga back when they started practicing and want to find a level similar to that. Hatha is a sanskrit word that can mean “force”. Broken down, Ha refers to the sun and Tha (pronounced with out the “h”) refers to the moon. So in Hatha Yoga, we are combining opposing forces to bring about awakening. In looking at the total picture of yoga practices, Hatha refers to the type of yoga that involves asana, or poses. It is the practice that involved moving the body, as opposed to Raja Yoga that focuses on meditation, Bhakti Yoga that uses devotional practices, or Karma Yoga that uses service as the main path to liberation. Simply put, Hatha yoga is the type of yoga that involves movement of the body. It is not really a word that should be used to describe a class level, although it seems that many have used the term “hatha” to indicate a gentle class. I have also heard hatha yoga classes to be extremely rigorous, so you may want to check out the individual yoga centers interpretation of the word before choosing the class you will attend.
Take a look below to see the gentle, restorative, and therapeutic classes we are offering right now at both locations. Some of our classes are very targeted and require pre-registration. If you have any questions about them, or any of our other class offerings please shoot me an email.