Sep 282011
 
 Comments Off on Pain During Yoga Practice? Know When to Back Off!

A student of mine with a recent back injury asked me how to know the difference between pain related to her injury versus tightness or soreness she needed to push through in her yoga practice. The key word that stood out for me was “push.” After almost 14 years of yoga practice, 11 of which have been Ashtanga, and having managed several injuries myself, my advice is to never push through anything- soreness or pain. If you push a sore or tight muscle it might tear. If you push an injury you’ll exacerbate it. It may sound cliche but “listen to your body.”

Whether or not pain is ok during asana practice is a subject up for debate depending on your interpretation of “tapas” from the Yoga Sutras, and surely you’ll get differing opinions from different yoga teachers. But my wonderful teachers always taught the no pain, no pain method and this approach has worked for me.

Yoga asks that we tune into a deeper, more subtle state of ourselves. This process begins when we step out of our thinking mind and into our feeling body. We develop awareness through conscious listening to our body’s innate wisdom and language, and part of that language is pain. Consider it a gift as our body’s natural means of communication. Hear it, pay attention to it, and honor it. If you do, it will also educate you on how to make it better. If you don’t, it grows from a  whisper, to a nudge, from a shout to a shriek!

There is a big difference between intensity in practice and pain. You can be challenged and work hard, but you must also work intelligently. Intensity usually feels like you’re exploring new territory. It’s difficult and requires you to deepen your breath. Pain on the other hand, whether mild or strong, usually feels like something’s just not right.

Find a way to practice pain-free. This might mean you need to modify certain poses or even omit them until your body tells you it is safe to return. And trust that it will tell you. Why not back off and practice gently for a few days, perhaps even weeks or months? At least you can keep practicing! If it is an injury you’re managing then it will heal. If it is soreness, then gentle movement will work it out.  Conservative? Yes, but it is a smart approach that will help keep you healthy and keep you returning to your yoga mat safely.

Find this post interesting, want to start a conversation or ask a question? Please, email me at ally@allyford.com.
In peace.
Ally

Jun 252011
 
 Comments Off on Inspiration For Practice – Setting A Positive Intention

Each time we step onto our yoga mat we have an opportunity to tune in to ourselves and observe our state or mind. Our mind is the ultimate lens through which we perceive the world and our circumstances. If our lens is “clouded” with negative impressions then this is how we view ourselves and the world around us. So we can understand why it is most is helpful to notice any negative impressions that might be clouding our perception and directing our attitude and actions throughout the day, and redirect those thoughts into positive energy. Oprah called it “owning our energy.” Understanding that even our thoughts release energy and that energy is felt by all those around us-by our spouses, children, friends, and co-workers-then we feel a greater responsibility to ensure that energy in the form of our words, deeds, and yes-even our thoughts-is positive.

A wonderful way to do this is by setting a positive intention when you start your day or come on to your yoga mat. Place your palms together in prayer, close your eyes, bow your head and tune into your heart. Feel the subtle vibration there and invite in the positive intention that you need for your day at that moment. Based on what’s happening in your life you might you need patience, understanding, forgiveness, or even joy or laughter. Tune in to that intention and allow the vibes of loving energy to transmit through you, to all those around you, then offer that intention up to the universe. Each time you feel challenged in any way, rather than get caught up in a negative whirlwind of thought considering all the events that led up to that challenge or the outcome that may potentially result, think of this intention. It is a helpful tool to redirect negative thoughts into positive thoughts and create healing.  But don’t just take my word for it. Try it!

Wishing you peace, harmony, health and beauty from the inside out,

Ally

 

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