Most people think of pain as the enemy. Something to avoid at all costs. But what if pain could be your friend? What if it was a messenger telling you that something in your body needs attention? That’s what I believe about pain and yoga. When you experience pain in your yoga practice, it’s an opportunity to listen to your body and learn more about yourself. It can be a painful but ultimately helpful lesson. So next time you’re feeling the burn in your muscles or grappling with challenging poses, remember that the pain is trying to help you. Embrace it! And see how much further you can go in your yoga journey.
Pain During Yoga Practice
There are many reasons you might experience pain during yoga practice. It could be something as simple as stiff muscles or stretched ligaments. Or it may be an indication of a more serious health problem, which is why it’s essential to get professional medical advice if you’re experiencing chronic pain in your joints, lower back, or elsewhere. However, sometimes pain is nothing to worry about, and you can continue with the rest of your practice safely.
Painful Yoga Poses
Here are some examples of painful yoga poses: Backbends like Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) where you’d expect to feel the tension in your spine. In pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), your front hip might feel a sharp stab of pain where it is often tight and vulnerable. Side stretches like Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) can be difficult if you have a stiff outer hip, even though the pose is meant to release tension in this area.
The Benefits of Embracing Pain
You get more out of your time on the mat by tuning into the sensations that arise during your practice. You learn to trust yourself and hone in on what’s going on in your body. It takes courage to continue when it hurts, but by doing so, you’re more to get better results from your practice.
Pain And Yoga Injury Prevention
Although pain can be a helpful indicator for when to modify your practice, it’s important not to avoid the poses altogether. This exacerbates your muscle and joint issues and makes yoga an injury-prone activity. You need to take care of yourself while practicing yoga, too, so make sure you keep up with all of your pre-practice self-care activities like eating well and warming up before you begin. Wherever possible, practice at your own pace rather than trying to look like the yogi on the next mat over. If you’re stiffer or less flexible than others in the class, don’t push beyond what feels comfortable for you today. By doing this, you’ll get more out of each pose and avoid causing yourself pain.
A Pain-Free Yoga Practice
When you feel some discomfort in your body while practicing yoga, try not to skip the poses causing you pain. Instead, keep breathing into the sensations and staying with them until they dissipate or ease up. You may even want to spend a little more time in these difficult poses, working towards easing the tension away by applying gentle pressure from your hands or feet. This is how you can encourage flexibility and release restrictions in your muscles and joints, creating a balanced foundation for all future yoga practice without injury. The next time you’re feeling a twinge of pain during a pose, I hope it’s easier for you to remember that it’s nothing to be scared of – instead, let it be your guide.
How to Ease Muscle and Joint Pain in Yoga Practice
When you feel pain in yoga, it is usually a sign that your muscles and joints are better supported with the help of props. So before you skip poses because they’re “too difficult,” take a look at these common causes of discomfort and ways to minimize physical trauma:
Hips: Be proactive about hip openers like Triangle (Trikonasana) or Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana). If your hips feel tight when you try to do these poses, place a bolster underneath your top leg so you can relax into the stretch without overstretching the joint capsule. Backbends can be uncomfortable if your spine is out of alignment. If you’re a beginner, work on building up to Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) by practicing Supported Bridge Pose (Salamba Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) with yoga blocks under your lower back.
Legs: When you practice standing poses like Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1), interlace your fingers and press the backs of your hands into a wall behind you for support. This will help open up your ribcage and the front of your shoulders, which can get tight from daily activities like working at a computer or carrying heavy bags.
Shoulders: Keep your shoulders warm before class by wearing a sweatshirt in the studio. Just sure you take it off for inversions like Headstand (Sirsasana). When you feel the weight of your body on your shoulders in this pose, place a rolled-up towel under your neck. This will help counterbalance the action of lowering your head and give you more space to breathe.
The next time you experience pain during or after your yoga practice, remember that it’s a messenger telling you something important. Pain is an honest signal from your body letting you know that you’ve pushed yourself a little too hard, need to modify your practice, or should take some time off for rest and recovery. When you understand the messages pain is sending, you can make informed decisions about your yoga practice and stay healthy and injury-free.