Gentle is the New Advanced

“Study thy Self, discover the Divine.” – Yoga Sutra II.44

Dear Friends,

How are you feeling today?

The light, consistent rain is plumping my spirits today … Jim & I walked in a light rain this morning … it was restoring. (I do a little happy dance, too, because the garden gets watered!!)

Sheepskin Trail

The title of this entry – Gentle is the New Advanced – I first heard from J. Brown, a renowned yoga teacher questioning the West’s obsession with pretzel-like postures & repetitive postures that can lead to injury over time. He & I both share shoulder injuries which, in part, are a result of years & years of chaturanga dandasanas … & there are several high-profile Western yoga teachers who’ve had hip replacements due to, at least in part, prolonged, aggressive, asana-focused practice. This is not good! We who share in the Yoga practices have a duty to honor the ENTIRE system of Yoga, & to practice & share in its fullness.

To this end, I’m so excited to finally have the confidence to offer a gentle yoga & yoga nidra class regularly.  What does confidence have to do with offering a gentle yoga class? Well, expectation. I have felt the weight of expectation from myself … influenced by the Western yoga “industry” … that yoga = asana, slick asana, “hard” asana …

What images over the past 20 years have you seen of modern yoga in the West? If you’re like me, the images convey that a certain type of person doing a certain type of pose wearing a certain type of clothing & in a certain type of place IS yoga.

I think we’re cheating ourselves at best, & culturally appropriating & blaspheming at worst.

But that’s a soap box for another day ;).

For now, confidence. Confidence that the subtleties of a gentle yoga practice will seep into our bodies … not in an “in your face, ta DA!” way … rather in the gentle, light rain-like way of my walk with Jim this morning. Confidence in the Himalayan Tradition, which teaches a holistic system of postures, breath, relaxation, meditation & lifestyle. Confidence that the gentle-ness of the practices, rather than shoving us down the Yogic path, actually allows the body & mind to advance toward our own unique best selves in a more profound way.

This has been my own experience.

I’m still looking for a more authentic phrase, however. “Gentle is the new advanced” still has that Western competitive tinge to it, that “oh-this-is-better” framing. Maybe you’ve found a phrase in your own practice / teaching that conveys the need for a holistic view & practice of Yoga to truly reap the benefits for ourselves & our world. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I look forward to seeing you online Sunday evenings to begin your week. What would it be like if, rather than striving to be more & to-do lists, we began our weeks/days/next moments with gentle care & deep rest FIRST thing?


I look forward to ALL of the classes I get to share in with you this week. Deep bows, E

Viparita Karani is a “gentle posture with deeply profound benefits. A great time to read a chapter … pictured here “Stay Woke: A Meditation Guide for the Rest of Us” by Justin Michael Williams.

p.s. (!!!!) In my e-newsletter (subscribe here) I shared a link to Beautiful & Blessed, a local, woman-owned business — I don’t get any kickbacks, just want you to check her out! Here’s one of the earring sets I ordered yesterday:

So fun!

Published by ericaengel42

I practice & share Hatha Yoga for a simple reason -- it works. Hatha Yoga in the Himalayan Tradition is a holistic system of philosophy & practices passed down through an unbroken 5,000 year lineage of Himalayan sages. What Hatha Yoga is not: trendy, bendy or one-&-done. What Hatha Yoga is: a systematic approach to uncovering the real, authentic YOU in body, mind & spirit. Hatha Yoga cultivates well-being, stability, clarity & ease in modern life through traditional, time-tested practices. I also recognize both our shared humanity & our differing privileges & barriers -- I am a cis-gendered white female with a graduate degree, who has dealt with family trauma & an eating disorder. My goals in my own practice include to cultivate awareness of my own privileges & social conditioning, unlearn & re-learn in order to be mindful & take compassionate action toward a more beautiful, just & peaceful world for ALL humans, creatures & our Earth. I'm making mistakes daily, & hopeful that I'm falling forward toward these goals & vision. I hope we can walk our paths & support each other along the way.

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