This is a contributed post about yoga by Phil Tucker with extremefitnessresults.com
When we envision a yoga class we tend to picture the same thing: a dozen swan-like young women moving smoothly through a series of graceful poses, breathing deeply and barely breaking a sweat, at one with their bodies and their practice. Yet when we step onto the mat, we often find it hard to attain that level of poise and elegance; in fact, a yoga class can be incredibly challenging, and many of us are left feeling awkward, out of shape, and even embarrassed. Is this normal to feel this way? Should you be feeling this level of discomfort? In today’s post we examine a few common complaints that people have, and help you understand whether what you are feeling is normal or not.
Yoga and Discomfort
First, a quick note: any novice will experience a wide variety of discomforts as they awaken their body after years of inactivity. It is very normal to feel any of the following discomforts during your first couple of months of yoga, and sometimes even the first six months or year depending on your fitness level. What you need to do is learn to listen to your body, learn to be patient with your development, and celebrate your victories as you earn them.
One of the most common problems that people experience with yoga is a lack of strength and ability to hold the poses. Even something as basic as Downward Dog can be incredibly challenging to hold, causing your triceps to quiver, your knees to buckle and your neck to ache as you strain to remain in place. While you should always test your edge, don’t allow yourself to become truly uncomfortable; Child’s Pose is always there for when any pose becomes too much.
Second, people often feel nausea when moving through the poses, especially those such as the Sun Salutations or inversions. What this means is that your body is beginning to work and expel toxins, cleansing itself of dormant poisons that are now being released into your systems. Understand that this nausea is natural, and again, feel free to take Child’s Pose if it becomes too much. However, think of the nausea as a positive sign that your body is fighting to heal itself, and don’t be afraid.
Third, people will find that they often become light-headed and dizzy during class. This is especially true during hot yoga, but can strike at any time. What does this mean? Simply that you are once again testing your limits, and that your body is fighting to deliver oxygenated blood to your mind. This is exactly why yoga instructors emphasize breathing so much; should you begin to feel light-headed, stop, assume Child’s Pose, and simply focus on breathing deeply until you feel better.
Finally, be sure to tell the difference between discomfort and pain. Nausea, dizziness, lack of strength or flexibility are all limitations that yoga can help you work through. Sharp pain of any kind means you have injured yourself, and you should stop. Severe examples of any of the above mean you should excuse yourself, drink some water, and take some time to check in with yourself and see what’s going on. Remember: testing your limits can feel uncomfortable but leads to growth; seeking to shatter them and experiencing pain as a result is a surefire way to court disaster.