Ah, gentle yoga.
This beautiful, restorative practice is a wonderful way to help your body feel relaxed and to let go of any stress you may be carrying.
Whether you are new to yoga, recovering from an injury, or simply looking to wind down instead of do a challenging asana practice, gentle yoga is a great tool to incorporate into your routine.
I suggest spending at least 10-15 minutes in the morning and evening practicing simple, supported poses. You will notice a difference within a few days, and especially over time if you are consistent.
This is also the perfect time of year for a gentle yoga routine, while the temperatures are hot, schedules tend to be busy, and yogis are tired from traveling.
If you are looking for books to add to your yoga library that will help your gentle yoga practice, try these five.
The Best Yoga Books for Gentle, Restorative and Yin Yoga
Chair Yoga by Kristin McGee. Filled with detailed descriptions and photographs, Kristin offers a variety of poses, both standing and seated. My favorite part of this book is that she also includes short sequences to try if you have a specific goal in mind: five minutes or ten minutes to better digestion, more energy, less stress, or ease back pain.
Restorative Yoga Therapy: The Yapana Way to Self-Care and Well-Being by Leeann Carey. This is a great book with lots of ideas for how to use props to support your gentle yoga routine.
The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga by Bernie Clark. If you're new to Yin yoga, start here. Bernie gives incredible, in-depth information about each pose, including the anatomy, how to enter and exit the pose safely, its benefits and contraindications, joints affected, and recommended hold times. As a yoga teacher, this book is an absolute must as it offers some of the best full-body yin sequences for each meridian line.
Relax and Renew by Judith Lasater. This book is wonderful. I like how the first half gives you an introduction to why restorative yoga is useful, and how to get started and add in props. The second half of the book has specific yoga sequences to aid common problems: back pain, headaches, insomnia, difficulties with breathing, jet lag, and cycles for women (menstruation, pregnancy and menopause).
Restoring Flexibility by Andrea Gilats. While this book is geared toward an older crowd, I really think it's an awesome resource for any age group because it provides a lot of great info about basic yoga moves to increase mobility, flexibility and longevity. I love the practice sequences, too! There are workouts for upper body, lower body, spinal flexibility, hip flexibility (flexors, rotators and adductors!), sun salutations, and muscle relaxation. At the end, there's also a four week program to try.
You can't go wrong trying any of these books to start your gentle yoga practice. If you prefer practicing at a studio, look for classes that say yin, gentle, restorative, or slow flow in the title of the class, and don't be afraid to ask the teacher questions (especially if something hurts) and USE props!
I hope these help you release tension and start feeling amazing in your body. Namaste :)
Photos of me by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography; book images taken from the web.