Congratulations on another win!
I want to address sensations (physical feelings or reactions within the body due to some sort of stimuli) while practicing yoga. Sensation is the body’s way of sending you a message. When something hurts, your body is saying “Stop!” People often ignore these messages, especially in football! This often leads to injury. On the other hand, when people experience an unfamiliar sensation, like an intense stretch in the hamstring after not stretching the backs of your legs for a long time, they often give up or confuse unfamiliarity with pain. It’s your body saying, “What’s that?!” The two are not the same.
When we first started, many of you said, “That hurts!” when asked to stretch a tight muscle or to mobilize a stiff joint. You often heard me respond with, “Does it hurt or are you stretching?” Over the past several weeks I have started to hear and see you refine the descriptions of what you are feeling and to stay with poses or movements that may be unfamiliar or initially intense rather than giving up. It’s fun watching you become more aware of this range of sensation, and to respect the messages that your body is sending you.
I would like to qualify this further. Let’s reference sensation on a scale of one to five:
1: Very little sensation; relaxed state.
2: Sensation increases, but is still comfortable. You can breathe easily.
3: Feels unfamiliar or intense. With focus, you can breathe evenly and remain with the pose.
4: “The Edge”. The length of your breath may shorten; this state feels like the maximum sensation you can handle without feeling pain.
5: Pain. Back off! Go to stage 4 or 3. There is no benefit from creating pain.
As we continue yoga sessions, please avoid stage 5! Be cautious with stage 4! And to yourself, try to describe your experience with different movements, poses or sensations as stretching, contracting, working, relaxing, feeling of unfamiliarity, releasing built up tension, et cetera. Let me know if you have questions. Also respect that your stage 4 may be someone else’s stage 2; you do not have to go as far as the person next to you. Yoga is not a competition; it is the ongoing process in which you become more familiar with yourself.
See you next week!