4 Tips That Will Help You Listen to Your Body During Yoga
Ignoring feedback from your body can lead to injuries or decrease your enjoyment of yoga. When you listen to your body, you're much more likely to reap the benefits of regular yoga practice.
Pay Attention to Your Inner Cheerleader
Sooner or later, yoga gets a little more difficult for everyone. When you can't quite master kapotasana or keep falling when attempting natarajasana, giving up may seem like the best option. Unfortunately, if you don't try to overcome obstacles, you'll never advance in your practice.
Yoga isn't about competition. Sometimes you'll perfect a pose before you classmates do, and sometimes they'll master it first. In the end, all that matters is that you're performing yoga to the best of your ability.
Everyone has an inner cheerleader. It's that little voice that tells you that you can do it, even if you're struggling. Although your instructor and classmates can offer encouragement, your internal cheerleader may have much more of an impact on your progress. Pay attention to your feelings, and keep on trying, even if your past attempts haven't been successful. When you overcome your problems and finally succeed, your accomplishment will feel even more impressive.
Don't Ignore Pain
Although self-encouragement is important, it's also crucial to pay attention to the signals that your muscles, nerves, and joints send you. Many of us grew up with the "no pain, no gain" mantra. Unfortunately, working through pain won't make you stronger, but may result in significant injuries that keep you off your yoga mat for weeks or months.
If you ignore pain, you may increase your risk of hamstring pulls, herniated discs, joint problems and injuries that cause back, neck, knee, hip, shoulder, or wrist pain. When pain strikes, stop immediately and mention your symptoms to your instructor. In some cases, it may be possible to safely perform the pose using bolsters or other props. If pain continues, the pose may not be the best one for you. Luckily, you can easily substitute another pose for one that puts too much stress on your body.
Identify Your Emotions
Your emotions play a vital role in your yoga sessions. It can be difficult to fully immerse yourself in asanas when you feel stressed, upset or angry. Luckily, it's often possible to neutralize negative emotion by taking a few minutes to meditate before yoga class begins.
If you only meditate during yoga classes, you may want to add the practice to your daily routine. Meditation offers a simple way to calm your mind and improve your health. In a study publicized in the June 26, 2017 issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers noted that participants in a three-month yoga and meditation retreat experienced lower levels of inflammation, stress and anxiety, and increased mindfulness.
Gauge Your Energy Level
Pushing yourself to perform complicated poses despite a lack of energy or initiative can result in poor form and injuries. Give yourself a break if you're feeling a little tired when it's time for yoga class or practice at home. There's no reason to force yourself to follow your normal routine when you're a little lethargic or don't feel well.
Although you may find that you have more energy after you perform a few poses, that's not always the case. If your energy level is low, focus on simple poses, meditation and breathing exercises, or skip the session entirely. Occasional breaks won't affect your progress and can help you ensure that you remain enthusiastic about your yoga sessions.
Have you been planning on taking a yoga class? There's no better time to take advantage of the many benefits of yoga. Contact us for information on class types and schedules.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience: Yoga, Meditation and Mind-Body Health, 6/26/17
MindBodyGreen: Yoga and the Art of Listening to Your Body, 2/18/13
Yoga Journal: Listening to Your Body, 11/18/13