How to Avoid Injuries and Get More Out of Yoga

inspirations thoughts on yoga Mar 01, 2021
For many new students it's hard to understand the concept that yoga shouldn't be painful... at all. When we're trying new postures and practices it's not uncommon to feel some pain, but it's very important to listen to that pain and adjust accordingly. I want to bring your attention to the way you approach your practice so that you get more out of it (and also so you don't injure yourself). 

If you're not familiar with BKS Iyengar, the founder of Iyengar yoga, you will probably be learning more about him as you practice yoga. I am not an Iyengar teacher, but some of my lessons and techniques are based in Iyengar yoga (including much of the "Neck Tension Release" video that I just posted last week). It's very much the yoga of precision and alignment. Iyengar was a great thinker as well. He's written many books on yoga practice and philosophy. I was reading his book "Light on Life" this morning and came across this passage that I think is worth sharing. 

Excerpt from "Light on Life" by BKS Iyengar: 

“When most people stretch, they simply stretch to the point they are trying to reach, but they forget to extend and expand from where they are. When you extend and expand, you are not only stretching to, you are also stretching from. Try holding out your arm to the side and stretch it. Did your whole chest move with it? Now try to stay centered and extend out your arms to your finger tips. Did you notice the difference?

Always stretch from the source, the core, the foundation of each asana. This is the art of dynamic extension. It is not yoga that injures, but the way one does yoga that leads to injury. The moment space becomes narrow, it means you are injuring (…) Even if your body is stiff, you have to bring space.

Always try to extend and expand the body. Extension and expansion bring space, and space brings freedom.”

I know that passage can be a lot to digest if you're new to yoga. Part of what I hope to teach is the importance of listening to your body and not just trying to achieve a certain shape, for instance not just trying to touch your toes. Slowly feel your way into each posture especially if it's your first time doing something or if it doesn't feel quite right. 

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