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“How many calories will I burn in a Yoga class?” I hear this question often from people looking to Yoga as a way to manage their weight and physical fitness. But my answer typically has a lot less to do with burning calories than with the unexpected ways in which Yoga enhances our overall well-being.

Back in my youthful days, I gravitated toward exercises that would burn the most calories. I figured this was the obvious way to get the “biggest bang for my buck.” Hey, I’m no sucker! If burning calories was the only benefit of exercise, I would have been right in my thinking. But after years of high-energy workouts, I didn’t feel so great.

Need a change of pace?

My life, like my fitness routine, was busy, hectic and stressful. When I noticed that my body felt increasingly like a tight knot, I realized I needed something different. So, I decided to take up Gentle Yoga.

Being an energetic type, it took willpower to stick with the practice at first. I found Yoga to be more difficult than running a marathon or climbing a mountain. Moving slowly, coordinating my breathing and being present in the moment was not only more challenging, but also less interesting to me than my previous activities. I wondered, “Is this actually doing anything for me? Am I even burning calories?”

One day while practicing Gentle Somatic Yoga, I was prompted to ask myself, “How is my well-being today?” Though I had been a health enthusiast living an active lifestyle for years, I rarely made such an inquiry. This moment of self-reflection was supported by the practice itself, which helped me integrate my insights.

Gentle Somatic Yoga – The Concepts Behind this Blended Discipline with James Knight

James Knight, the Pioneer of Gentle Somatic Yoga, shares how he came to develop this philosophy of body movement to help release chronic pain. With over 20 years in the Healing Arts, James discusses how Hanna Somatic movements when combined with Gentle Yoga concepts can more quickly get to the root of tight, constricted muscles in order to free the body from habitual patterns and chronic tension.

The self-awareness that ensued contributed to meaningful changes that reduced my stress, dissolved my tension, and gave me new ways to manage a busy life full of the things I love and am committed to. Among those things is a great workout!

Finding Balance

I still love to get my heart rate up, break a sweat and feel accomplished from staying active. Whether it’s dancing, hiking, or strength-training, my workout is made more sustainable and my life more enjoyable by the “work-in” that Yoga entails. However, burning calories is no longer my main goal.

With many fitness-oriented Yoga styles out there, it’s not uncommon to fall into the same workout-mentality of other exercise styles. Nevertheless, getting the most “bang for our buck” in Yoga requires staying attuned to our present moment experience and maintaining quality breathing.

Decades after calorie-oriented fitness burnt me out, balancing “working out” and “working-in” has brought me a new level of well-being in my body and mind. But don’t just take my word for it. See what this approach can do for you. Our Gentle Yoga and Chair Yoga classes are a great place to start!



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James Knight - On-the-go Short GSY Class

For those On-The-Go! – A Short GSY Class with James

Sherry Zak Morris Lizard Loosening for Hips & Shoulders

Lizard Loosening for Hips & Shoulders

Evening Glow Hatha Yoga with Alejandro

Not 30 Anymore!  But Moving Daily with Sherry

Erhard Rohrmuller DaVinci Movements

Soma-Kinetics and the DaVinci Movements with Erhard

CREDITS:  Author, Sherry Zak Morris, Certified Yoga Therapist

Co-Author, Susana Jones, Certified Yoga Therapist

Editor, Maria Perez, Certified Yoga & Group Fitness Instructor