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Lesson 145 - Q&A Overdoing it with asanas
Date: Thu Mar 18, 2004 10:54am
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q: After dabbling for years, I have begun practicing yoga and meditation in
earnest (for about a year now). During a recent yoga class, we practiced
about 85 minutes of asana, and then took a short break before resuming with
pranayama. During the break, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion,
shaking, unable to speak or make eye contact. When we resumed with
pranayama, tears began streaming down my face. It has been several days, and
I am still (uncustomarily) emotional. It is painful to the point of wanting
to discontinue yoga, but I know that I must continue, that I am on the brink
of a breakthrough. It feels as if my chest has been ripped open, that
myheart has been exposed. The opposite of the bliss that I have been
seeking. I am sad about the death of my father, but this heartache seems to
be directly caused by my practice of yoga. Thank you for any insight you
A: Thank you for writing and sharing.
Sorry to hear you are having some difficulty. It sounds like you might have
overdone it with practices - 85 minutes is a lot of asana time, especially
if you have not built up to it gradually over time as a steady daily diet.
If you didn't overdo, then maybe you did not rest long enough at the end of
your routine and something went out of balance from getting up too soon
instead of getting released during practices and rest.
It could also be the mix of your practices. Physical hatha methods are
notoriously hazardous when done to excess as stand alone practice. Much
better to mix them in moderation with global purification practices of deep
meditation and spinal breathing. That is the approach in the lessons. A
flexible guideline is 10 minutes asanas, 10 minutes pranayama, and 20
minutes meditation, twice a day.That is not including add-ons like kumbhaka
and other practices we will be discussing later. The times can be adjusted
up or down to fit the individual via self-pacing.
Anyway, none of that is going to make you feel better right now. It is just
advice for the future. For now, be very nice to yourself. Back off your
practices as necessary until your heart heals. But don't give up. Some light
spinal breathing and deep meditation might help. Take some long walks. You
will heal, and maybe in the future consider moderation and balance of
practices. Yoga is powerful stuff, and works well when done in correct
proportions. Too much in the wrong combination can lead to trouble – too
much purification too fast. It is just a matter of education, and prudent
self-pacing according to experiences.
I wish you healing and continuing progress on your chosen path.
Q: Thank you for your thoughtful response. I admit that I am not a moderate
person, and I probably am overdoing the asanas. That particular class was
filled with many more advanced people, including professional yoga teachers.
My desire for progress exceeds my abilities/experience. I will practice
non-violence toward myself, and will focus on meditation and spinal
I have found your postings to be insightful and useful in my daily life.
Thank you for sharing them with me and others.
A: The desire is good. It (bhakti) fuels practice. Of course, the tendency
to overdo is the caution. As you go through the lessons, you will see a lot
of situations in the Q&As where it is very similar to what you have been
through. Self-pacing has a lot of nuances to it. With ongoing bhakti/desire
and wise self-pacing you can't miss. I wish
you all success.
The guru is in you.
Note: For detailed
instructions on self-pacing asana routines in relation to sitting practices, see the AYP Asanas, Mudras and Bandhas book,
and AYP Plus.
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