Posted in Uncategorized by Administrator on the October 4th, 2012
The yin and yang symbol represents balance. This means balance between hot and cold, light and dark, up and down. In yoga, yin and yang means a balance between strength and softness, energy and calm.
My students have been progressing wonderfully in their yoga classes, and today they mentioned that sometimes they feel sore after class. This typically means that they are building their muscles and getting stronger! I have students from their 20s up through their 80s who are safely working to strengthen and lengthen their muscles. Yoga is a very safe way to build muscle (long, lean muscle) for everyone — even those with limited mobility. Will the soreness last forever, they ask. Of course not! In your first few yoga classes you may be experiencing soreness because you are using new muscles and getting used to the poses. My students tell me that they feel muscles they never knew they had. I remember feeling that way when I first started yoga. After all, yoga is about self discovery, exploration, and connection — connecting to all of your muscles is a critical first step in that direction!
And so, might you feel sore after your first few yoga classes? Sure! And that is OK – If you listen to your body and follow the instructor’s guidance, you will be able to find your comfortable edge – that is a very safe place to build muscle. When you build muscle, often you will feel sore. However, always remember to listen to your body first in yoga classes! When you do this successfully, just think of all the bone-density benefits of lifting weights — but with stress relief and whole mind-body-life connection built in! That is yoga.
So why is yoga different than other exercises like weight lifting? It’s different because while we focus on strength, we also focus on softness: Softness in the breath, and the way we think, the mind, eyes and jaw. We experience softness in the breaks between the poses. Softness in breathing practices (pranayama) and restorative poses. Softness in Savasana – a 5-10 minute relaxation time built into the end of the class.
It is critical to develop our physical body in a way that is in harmony with our emotional well-being, and a relaxed and stress-free life. When our body is weak and tense, it is much more challenging to experience positive emotions and positive thoughts. And that is why we want strength (and soreness is OK!), but integrated with softness of body and mind. There are so many opportunities in yoga class to integrate softness of breath and body and mind in conjunction with the energizing and strengthening poses. And so you leave class feeling strong, energized, calm, and soft, all at once.