It was day three after what felt like a regular, run of the mill, yoga class. I just could not believe it, how am I still in pain?!

What made me angry was that I knew exactly what pose from that class did it! And I was annoyed at myself for not listening to my body when it told me to stop. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, WHY did I not listen?

Like most classes, the instructor began by asking if anyone had something they wanted to work on, I quickly raised my hand and when she pointed to me I said “I would love to work on my hips.”

She smiled and said “great!”

I could have sworn I saw a shimmer in her eye that whispered, “you might regret that.”

Now, even though I have been teaching yoga for over 20 years, what I love the most about it is that there is still so much to learn from this ancient form. I will always be a student of yoga, so I make it a point to take classes and workshops regularly. This continued education helps me learn the art and history behind the varying yoga practices.

I especially love learning the different cues for the poses; The different ways people can experience each pose seems to be infinite.

Toward the end of the class, our instructor started working on hip openers. The hip openers that I had asked for.

The image below shows the pose known as “frog pose” which is commonly used to help open the hips. We held that pose for, what felt like, 20 minutes.

I know it was not actually 20 minutes, but this is where things went wrong. Holding the pose for however long, felt uncomfortable, to the point where I was experiencing pain, but I stayed in it. After all, I was the one who suggested hip work!

I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO MY BODY! Every single person has a different comfort level and for me, the length of time we held that pose was entirely too much. And because I didn’t listen to my body, I woke up with pain in my hips for a week after that class! If I had been a new student, I would have been hesitant to go back to another class.

So, here are the lessons I learned;

Remember to cue yoga practitioners in my classes to LISTEN to their bodies.

When I teach, I make sure that everyone knows they have permission to listen to their body. Whether that is to get out of a pose before others, or to make the decision to not even attempt a pose. If that is what they need to do in the moment, it is always okay.

In fact, I often make it a point to applaud them for listening to their body. I might connect with them after class or provide a soft “great job” throughout the class.

I may even quote Earl Nightengale who said, “Courage is the opposite of conformity”

It takes great courage to be truthful to yourself when it is different than that of the group.

Frog pose is a wonderful pose

I stopped doing the pose all together after that class because it had caused me pain. Who could blame me, right?!

Then, a few months later, I was taking an exercise class when the instructor was stretching us out and he leads us into frog pose and says with vigor that we should do this every day, that it will help my with sciatica (which I would get off and on in my life) and hip pain.

I was able to do the pose without any pain. I could not believe that my mind had held me back from the benefits of this pose.

I started practicing this pose again, however, I went about it slowly.  I began by holding the pose for about 10 seconds, coming out, and going back in again for 10 seconds.  Working my way up to 30 seconds each time.

Every human body is different and each of those body’s responds to yoga differently, but that does not mean you shouldn’t practice.

I love yoga for so many reasons. Not only does it push my limits both physically and mentally, but it helps me stay in tune with what my own body needs.

When you are in-tune with yourself you have more personal power.

Which is what my next blog post will be about.

Stay tuned….

Connie M. Warden

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