Those of you who have been to my Fire or Yin class (or even my Fusion class) may have heard me say, “Slow and Steady Wins the Race.” We set the pace for class with our opening breathing exercise.
Why do we do this? Isn’t the point to get a good sweat on, get our heart rates up and lose weight?
After taking 60 Bikram yoga classes in a row when i was living in New York City I saw many health benefits. My skin glowed, my muscle tone improved. But I also noted a jangling sound in my right knee. After “locking my knee” for 60 days, it turns out my knee had just given up.
So many times our ego gets in the way of our yoga practice. We want to be the best, push past our edge, “outdo” the other yogis in the room.
In “The Republic,” Plato advises “temperance” in physical training, comparing it to learning music or poetry. Keep it “simple and flexible,” as in all things, don’t overdo it. Follow this course of action, and you will remain “independent of medicine in all but extreme cases.” (cited from New York Times opinion columnist Bill Hayes)
It’s easy to become infatuated with something new that makes us feel as good as Dragonfly Hot Yoga. Replacing a daily pill with an invigorating time in the hot room would appeal to a lot of people I know. But how far is too far? Yoga should not hurt.
So take a breath. Get in the hot room, but then take the pressure off yourself. Set an intention at the beginning of the class that you will listen to your body and not push yourself past your edge. You will do the poses to the best of your ability. Because really, your body is the only one you have. Why punish it? Slipped discs, dislocated shoulders, and noisy knees are not the goal of your yoga practice.
Meet your body where it is today. Not where you think it should be. Not where society tells you it should be. Where it is today. From there, grow your branches.