Gentle Yoga ~ Origins

Gentle Yoga with Rudy Peirce

Rudy Peirce began his professional career as a yoga instructor in 1982 after receiving certification at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. He was living in the yoga community at that time and developed his skills teaching yoga through yoga classes and yoga workshops both for guests and the resident community. His colleagues at the Kripalu Center soon dubbed him the “Doctor feel-good of yoga” based on his sensitive style of instruction and guidance in his yoga classes. Rudy was clearly committed to giving his yoga students a deep stretch that resulted in a deeply satisfying relaxation experience without putting them through the rigors of numerous yoga asanas (yoga postures).

Rudy taught beginner, intermediate and advanced yoga classes, but his students and colleagues noticed that his beginner classes were qualitatively unique and gifted them with a sense of competence and depth in their yoga practice without any risk of strain or injury. His unique approach to guiding and instructing yoga in a gentle manner was appreciated by beginning students as well as advanced students who needed to take a break from their tendency to push themselves. In addition, people with previous injuries who weren’t sure they could really do yoga found that they were able to fully participate in Rudy’s yoga classes and fully benefit from this gentle approach to yoga without any sense of fear of re-injury. All found Rudy’s gentle yoga style to be conducive to healing and deep relaxation and people felt they were experiencing yoga as a true spiritual practice.

Rudy’s approach to teaching and leading yoga, meditation and relaxation became referred to as “gentle yoga” and eventually the three levels of instruction at Kripalu were re-conceptualized from beginner, intermediate and advanced to gentle, moderate, and vigorous. Rudy developed the protocols for these three types of yoga instruction and supervised and mentored the yoga teaching team at Kripalu for several years. He also developed a mentoring protocol and trained experienced yoga teachers how to skillfully mentor newer teachers. Rudy is still well-known and beloved as a teacher training mentor. He is especially sought for guidance in the area of gentle yoga.

Gentle Yoga Rudy Peirce

Experienced yoga teachers generally agree that teaching or leading a really great gentle yoga class is much more challenging than leading moderate or vigorous styles. To lead gentle yoga like Rudy Peirce is to guide yoga students such that they are engrossed in the subtle movements and sensations in the body from the inside out rather than striving to achieve the goal of a yoga posture or asana. The process is more important than the results. Rudy’s Gentle Yoga is a true spiritual practice.

Nonetheless, students who trained with Rudy reported increased well-being and states of relaxation that were unexpected since they weren’t pushing themselves or trying hard to do anything. Over time, many other yoga instructors started trying to emulate this approach and caught on to the value that Rudy discovered through his own practice…that of moving gradually into postures and doing many movements to prepare the body before fully entering a stretch.

Rudy has produced a series of 4 popular gentle yoga CDs titled “The Gentle Series” as well as one more vigorous practice CD, Fanning the Fire, inspired by his work over the years leading men’s yoga retreats such as the recent, Men’s Yoga for the Soul. All his practice CDs include relaxations to insure time for rest and integration following a yoga practice session.

Rudy has also been a yoga teacher trainer for many years and is currently co-director of the Yoga School for Whole Self Yoga. To accommodate the busy schedules of those interested in becoming yoga teachers, the format of Whole Self Yoga Teacher Training is one weekend a month. This training program will be offered in various locations in the Northeast United States.

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