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When yoga hurts

[above video: Old School Krishnamarchaya getting bendy in the woods]

Students ask: “I’m so sore from yesterday’s yoga class… should I
practice again or just rest?”

Let’s take step back and ask answer another, simpler question:
“Why are you sore to begin with?”

Well, the soreness you’re feeling is most-likely a sign of tissue
damage. But damage is a bad thing, right? Well, yes and no.

Obviously, we don’t want to tear our bodies’ connective tissues
to shreds, but at the same time, it’s impossible to drastically
increase your flexibility without some soreness.

So what I’m saying is that true flexibility gains are all about DAMAGE CONTROL. So here are 3 things to keep in mind when you’re really aching:

If you’re so sore that even 10 minutes into class or practice you
still feel pain, then you should stop and rest for at least 2 days.

If the soreness goes away after 10 minutes of yoga practice, then
you’re OK, but go slowly and don’t try to make any flexibility gains.

Go into all your poses at about 80% of your max, and be very
careful not to aggravate the affected area.

When you’re really sore, the goal is not to improve flexibility, but
simply to maintain and massage the sore area.

That’s all for now. Until next time…

Stay bendy,


p.s. Before your stretch, it’s great to do some breathing exercises
to prepare your body. I have a 20-minute program called EXHALE
that’s a great prep for deep stretching. I’ve been giving it away lately with my YOGABODY Flexibility Kit. Details are here:

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  1. Eric wrote
    at 1:40 am - 8th August 2010 Permalink

    Well, soreness to your muscles would be considered as part of the process to improve flexibility. It would be properly give attention and it doesn’t mean that you stop excercising. It is good that you explained the pain and soreness difference

  2. ritchelle wrote
    at 12:39 am - 13th August 2010 Permalink

    In yoga, its inevitable to feel soreness. It is part of the process of improving the flexibility of our muscles. But it has limitations, we should know when to stop exercising and we should seek for medical guidance.

  3. Bruce Abrams wrote
    at 11:36 am - 9th November 2010 Permalink

    When you are practicing yoga, do you need to do to it everyday? Or is it by choice…?