Why I Don't Practice Yoga for Fitness

{5 min. read}

 

As a competitive gymnast growing up, I pushed myself in all ways and I was pushed. I remember being in the full splits position, my right ankle propped up on red, sticky, three foot incline mat and my coach pushing down my shoulders until I cried - that's not even where it stopped.

I remember my body clearly crossing "the line" {my choice essentially} and bursting out in anger at my coach. This was seen as okay because I'd for sure be a good girl and use the anger to perform better.

We’re drawn to things we’re good at. Yoga was a natural progression for me and in my early yoga experience I'd feel confident in class. I was "good at" the poses and I craved the acquisition of achievement. 

Yes, I loved feeling the burn.

 Art by Allison Kunath

Art by Allison Kunath

Until it caught up with me at the age of 23. I began to suffer from worsening headaches and Thoracic Outlet Sydrome - which caused electric pain down my arm.

It took many messy years to discover what was going on. Gosh I mean, all I was doing was strengthening and stretching - that's good for us, right?

But I began to see the extremes to which I was doing this. And more importantly that my body type can do this - {push past the limits} and shouldn’t

You see, with over-stretched ligaments, we too-bendy types suffer. We’re more likely to have spinal disc problems TMJ, and persistent musculoskeletal pain. Even psycho-emotional symptoms like existential angst, and being overly sensitive to other peoples’ needs and wants - to the extent of shape-shifting for others. 

Dr. Alan Pocinki, an MD has written about hypermobility, "Because ligaments are too loose and cannot do their job well, the muscles are forced to do much more of the work than they’re meant to do." This causes problems and very tight muscles - all cloaked under deceptive flexibility. This phenomenon is three times more likely in women and often is accompanied by a relief of pain during movement - so we keep moving! 

But what really is the goal? Stillness. That’s what we’re trying to do in yoga.

Striving towards a yoga pose with a attitude to conquer it isn't worth the long-term damage and it’s driven me to re-evaluate ALL of my goals - which was vulnerable for sure.

What I really began to see is that I don't need to abandon myself in order to get there. 

As my beloved teacher, Kaya Mindlin, puts it, “You have to draw the line somewhere, are you going to do it or is your body going to do it for you?” And just like that, the days of pushing my body to go into extreme shapes is over. 

So long funky trick with the shoulder blade wing! {But seriously, thanks for the talent show material}.

You'd never believe that a gymnast like me always walking around on her hands as a little girl, now spends her yoga time in a motionless pile on the ground. 

There's enough frenzied movement in life - and yoga doesn't need to be that too. 

The intelligent alignment and supportive props of the Deep Release Yoga system that I studied in my yoga therapy 1000 hour training - is a different kind of thing. It's designed to do something else - to release very core muscles and blockages. 

It's deeply restorative and transformational subtle yoga.

And I’ve got to say, not being in pain after 7 years of it is feeling pretty awesome to me!

I could say I was “forced to adopt a less-is-more approach” because it felt counterintuitive, and it was hard to let myself rest. But over and over I've seen that gentleness is more effective and efficient for healing.

rose.jpg
 
My flower wont open if I yell at it and say bloom! 
— Marion Woodman

The flower of my deep self wont open if I yell at it and say bloom.

It opens through gentle nurturing, learning to feel pleasure and wholeness in the body, and discovering safety. The flower opens with love and it opens bit by bit.

It's my mission to cultivate long term well-being and stillness in mind and body for myself and my clients. This goal is continent on making informed decisions about what yoga poses we choose to practice and why.

This month, I'm giving away 5 complimentary phone sessions - to share freely and to connect with those of you that want to go deeper and learn more.

You're invited to sign up here to have a phone eval, tell me your story and see how I can help you.

 

With Love,

Lauren