Yoga

So, question for you all out there….the past eight weeks or so I’ve been taking a Beginning Yoga class. I know that everyone practices at different levels, but I was curious about something. Half the time when I’m practicing yoga, I can’t breathe. Now, I know it takes a lot of practice to get people to the point where they can focus on their breathing and keep their movements on the inhales and exhales, but I have problems breathing pretty much all the time. When I bend over to do monkey pose, or when I’m doing downward dog, in poses where I bend, I have a hard time breathing. Does this happen to anyone else?

For this reason, I find it pretty difficult to practice yoga. I love all the breathing techniques, and corpse pose at the end and beginning. They’re great. But when it comes to poses like the warriors, or side-angle pose, etc. I have a hard time because my feet keep siezing. It’s difficult. It has gotten better recently, but it’s still hard.

I think I’ve been really disappointed about all my struggles with Yoga. I really thought it would be fun and really good. I do feel the benefits afterwards, but while I”m doing it, it’s kind of painful. I just got back from the first class I was able to go to in a few weeks (because I had a crazy academic schedule the past few weeks), and I feel a lot better than I did yesterday. My neck doesn’t hurt like it usually does, I feel more relaxed. I feel good. I just wish that while I was doing it, I would enjoy it more. Instead, I’m always tensing up.

Anyway, just wondered what you all think…

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13 thoughts on “Yoga

  1. I love yoga, used to do it all the time, but since I’ve gotten so big I have trouble with the poses…I can’t twist or bend as much as I feel I need to because there’s just too much stomach and boob in the way. So I personally am saving it for when I lose a little of the stomach and boob. But the great thing about yoga is that it’s beneficial at most any level. If you have trouble breathing you may need to practice modified versions of some poses. There’s a DVD out called “Yoga for Weight Loss” with Suzanne Deason that provides great modifications for the major poses (even if you’re not looking to lose weight the modifications alone are worth buying the DVD, as you can choose from 4 levels of practice).

  2. I think when you ask your body to do something it hasn’t done before, sometimes it takes a while to get used to it. You say that your neck isn’t hurting anymore and that some positions feel good, and that you feel generally good at the end of the session, so I would say your body is starting to get used to it and it’s something you’re finding generally positive in your life.

    That says to me that it’s coming together for you. I’d say that’s a good enough sign that this is for you.

    If you’re having physical difficulty breathing in some positions, though, you might want to have a private chat with your instructor to see if there’s a way you can overcome that problem or if those poses just aren’t going to work for you. After all, we don’t want you to come to any harm!

  3. the thing that I’ve heard the most of is that you shouldn’t do anything that is painful. Not every pose is easy for every body and a good yoga teacher will recognize that and offer alternatives or at least tell you that if you are in pain you should ease up. I think it’s good to push yourself, but know your limits. And of course the more you do it the easier it will be come and the bigger your range of motion will become.

  4. What type of yoga are you practicing? I ask because there are various styles of yoga that work better for me and my body than others. For instance, Ashtanga is not a style I enjoy, however Vinyasa flow I love.

    I would suggest talking to your teacher about the issues you are having and he/she may have some suggestions on modifying the pose to make it easier to breath in.

    Keep with it! it does only get better with regular practice. To quote my yoga teacher “it’s called yoga practice, not yoga perfect”.

  5. I’m a yoga beginner, too (been doing it once a week for the past few months), and in some of the more twisty or foldy poses, I can’t get a deep breath, either. I’m pretty heavy, and sometimes when I’m bent in two, my stomach kind of “bangs into itself.” (I suppose it means my spare tire is pressing on my diaphragm, or something.) I find that sometimes if I widen my stance a little, it allows me to get out of my own way and complete the bend.

    But Twistie’s right, the best thing is to ask your instructor. I find that in the gym-based yoga classes I’ve taken, as opposed to various aerobics classes, the instructors seem less likely to interrupt the flow of their narration to offer modified poses–but are very happy to demonstrate them when asked.

  6. Wandered in from the fatosphere, because I’m always attracted to discussions of yoga. I’ve been practicing for years and would still call myself a beginner sometimes. But I do know that yoga should not be painful in the bad sense (I think there is a good stretchy kind of pain, but you know it when you feel it). So if it’s uncomfortable, you have to make adjustments.
    Your instructor would know best, but my thoughts: when you’re bent over, it is more difficult to breathe into your chest, where most people’s breath is limited to. But how do you feel in child’s pose? That’s a good pose to feel yourself breathing deeply in a way that expands your whole torso – because with your knees in your chest, the only place for the breath to go is your back and sides. It may be that when you’re used to filling up your whole torso with breath in a rest pose, it’ll become easier in the active pose.
    In warrior poses, I sometimes get foot cramps too, never quite know why. But I try to relieve it by shortening my stance (taking some stress of that angled back foot) and massaging my foot tendons before or after. Feet totally need massages when you ask them to hold you up in such unfamiliar postures.

    It may also be that your body just says no to certain poses. This is the case with my yoga buddy, whose enormous rack interferes with her breathing in some postures and arm placement in others. But whether or not that’s the case, as long as you are getting some benefit out of yoga it makes sense to try modifications for the painful poses or simply take a different pose at those times. (My instructor is big on returning to child’s pose whenever you are tired or in pain, regardless of what everyone else is doing.)

  7. You may be holding your breath because the pose is difficult for you. Always come back to the breath. If you find yourself not breathing, it’s time for a short break in child’s pose. Stay with it and breathe into the tight areas of your body. I’ve been doing yoga for about 7 years now. I’m addicted to it because it makes me feel so good!

    Don’t force yourself to do what everyone else is doing. Go at your own pace and always come back to the breath.

    Namaste’

    julie

  8. Could the difficult breathing be a signal that you’re doing more in the pose than you’re quite ready for? What would happen if you practiced your poses in that place just before your breathing gets tough?
    I’ve found in my own practice that I’ll push myself in to a place of discomfort and strain because, “Hey — I can endure it, right? It’s not that bad.” Then I tend to feel all struggle-y and frustratable.
    I’ve had more “A-Ha!” moments in yoga when I’ve waited in a place of (sometimes pretty dynamic!) comfort for my body to get further into the pose on its own terms.

    Yayy for yogadventures!

  9. It sounds like you need modifications for your poses. It should always be done at your own level, and if your own level looks nothing like someone else’s, so be it. Yoga is for everyone, and someone who has more trouble with the advanced poses NEEDS it more than anyone else. I would talk to the teacher and make sure they hear what you need.

  10. I’ve done yoga on and off for many years (15?) and much of it depends on the instructor and the type of yoga you are doing.

    I have a similar problem of sometimes not finding I have enough breath. There are a few things I do when I encounter this:
    1. Do I have enough room to breathe? If it’s the case, as Crinklish said above, of my stomach “banging into itself” — can I modify the pose so I have more room — can I open my legs a little wider to make more room for my belly? Can I back off from the twist a bit so I have more space to breathe?
    2. Can I expand my lungs more into my chest and back temporarily so I can experience this particular pose or stretch if it feels good? I remind myself that I do have enough breath, and try to expand out in all directions. I enjoy breathing deeply into my stomach but there are other places I can “find breath.”
    3. Sometimes I just don’t do that pose. Downward dog sometimes just leaves me breathless. I think (I’m not sure) that it’s the weight of my breasts or belly or something. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, and sometimes I feel the way you’ve described, that I just can’t get enough air. If it feels uncomfortable, I just hold it for a few seconds, and rest in a (modified for my large stomach) child’s pose until the rest of the class moves on.
    4. It’s okay to go more slowly than the rest of the class to catch up on breathing.
    5. It’s okay to feel that a particular class or instructor just isn’t a good fit for me.

    I had an instructor who I adored, who helped me make modifications, who was herself amazingly strong and was not slender and also not fat, but seemed to really get it. It can be intimidating to talk with an instructor, but looking for someone who gets that you are interested in trying and learning more will look for ways to adapt the poses to you in a safe way.

    If you think you like yoga, I recommend that you keep trying out different classes and instructors until you find something that fits you.

  11. I think you may be pushing yourself too far in the poses.

    One of the most liberating things can be learning not to care how far others are stretching.

    Learning that even if you barely move a jot in a move, it is in your own time, with your body’s consent.

    As you said, Yoga is on the breath, that’s what made it bearable for me when I was first starting.

    One of the things you can do when you get as far as you comfortably can, is to inhale and imagine drawing the stress and strain out of your whole body (and /or mind) and then as you breathe out, allowing your body either to relax more or to go a fraction further, if it wants.

    It’s a bit like eating, once you take the pressure of performance anxiety off your body, it can actually relax better.

    I’ve always had trouble with focusing on my breathing, it always seemed to disturb it’s rythmn. So I practised when I was focused on something else saying that my breathing was deepening and lengthening. Because I was concentrating on something else, I found my breath would begin to do this and flow rhythmically.

    You could start this suggestion say 5 minutes before you start your poses, and go with that rhythmn.

  12. am doing yoga for a good month have no problem with anything except the holding the monkey. i cant stand on my feet in that pose, have to bend up in every half minutes as my thighs are hurting me so much. my legs are very muscular and still this is where its the most painful to so the pose.

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