Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New to Yoga?

If you are starting a yoga practice here are a couple of things to keep in mind.


Meet Yourself Where You Are

We are all at different places in our lives. Your body has become what it is today as a result of the experiences you’ve had and its responses to the demands you’ve placed on it.

Actually, it has done a remarkable job of adapting to what you’ve asked of it. If you sit for 8 to 10 hours per day (like many desk-workers do), your body noticed and shortened your hip flexors to be optimal for all that sitting. If you crouch over your desk or steering wheel, your back muscles lengthen and your chest muscles tighten.  If you’ve been in an accident and can’t walk, your body has shifted its attention upward.

You might not like where you are. You may be thinking of trying yoga to change your body in some way. That’s okay.  But be kind to yourself and meet yourself where you are *now*. 

How the pose *feels* is way more important than how it *looks*.   Pain is never okay. Yes, you want to feel some sensation (like a good stretch), but not pain. Never. Ever.

If you encounter a pose that doesn’t work for you, there are several options to try:

1. Modify – Use a block, blanket, strap, chair, or other prop to assist you in the pose. There are some poses that I *always* use a block in (like triangle pose) – and I’ve been practicing yoga for years. 

2. Try a Variation – There are lots of versions of poses and many poses will have the same benefits of a pose you can’t do.   I can’t do Warrior I – it feels “crunchy” in my lower back/hips – so I take a wider stance than is traditional or I just do High Crescent instead.

3. Don’t do it, do something else instead – As long as you are consciously breathing, you are doing yoga, even if you are lying flat on your back.  Wheel pose hurts my forearms. So I don’t do it.  Some days I do bridge instead, some days I just lay on my back and breathe.