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Why does yoga hurt so much?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Wyndra, Apr 27, 2017.

  1. Wyndra

    Wyndra Newcomer

    I started doing yoga 2 months ago in order to keep my body active. I thought it would be good , low-impact exercise. It is even included in the (very short) list my rheumathologist suggested me to try.

    I have a small, skinny, flexible body. I can stretch a lot and do most postures, and I like the challenge of doing them. The problem is that it started to hurt a lot. My body gets wrecked for two days after every yoga class. Then it subsides. But then another class comes and I go through the cycle again.

    I have learned that arching my spine backwards puts me into great misery a couple of hours later. But even stretching my spine forward gives me pain. Well, most postures do. I tried doing them less intensely but I can't seem to find a balance between "I'm trying the posture instead of just sitting down" and "It hurts".

    Maybe I need to change my teacher? She knows I can't do some things but she's very severe sometimes. I do Iyengar Yoga, which is mostly Hatha Yoga with some implements like wooden blocks and belts. Or should I change the exercise and move on to tai chi or gym machines with little weight, for example?

    And, shouldn't all this pain be psychosomatic??? Why does it hurt??? I have developed a better attitude regarding pain after reading Sarno, I talk with my brain and I try not to pay attention to the moving pains, but I don't want to feel horrible all week just to do some physical activity!!! I'm so confused! :(
    Bodhigirl likes this.
  2. Fernando

    Fernando Peer Supporter

    Your last paragraph reflects perfectly what it's for me the hardest part of TMS: the fear of pain. I try to convince myself that there's nothing structurally wrong with me and although I've made big progress, there's still a glimpse of doubt which I'm having great difficulty to get rid of.

    In my case I sometimes experience an onset of pain or discomfort that begins a few days or even one week after the activity was over. This is nonsense and reinforces the idea that pain is pyschogenic.
    Bodhigirl likes this.
  3. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Don't be RUSHED by the schedule your "teacher" must maintain to get her "students" on their way to the parking lot to check off their to-do lists and to get to her next class perhaps miles away. Yoga was meant to be taught one on one and the assanas were meant to prepare the student for the rigors of meditation. This has been bastardizeed in the modern scheme of doing things to fit the needs of the time clock. Set up your mat in the back of the class so you are not pressured to compete with the rest of the class. Notify your teacher that you will be doing the class at a pace that works for your bodymind. In a real yoga class they sometimes have a therapy area for those who are injured and doing special therapeutic postures. And the teacher will have assistants roaming the room to give personalized attention. Unfortunately with the modern, "fitness yoga", the average class is run by the clock, and the "guru" is a demonstrator, occasionally doing a pretzel pose to impress the students. You might as well watch a yoga tape. Your teacher might be good and understand your needs and pushes you correctly--s/he might have even read Sarno--bring a copy to show her/m. If she blows you off, that gives you some more insight into her/m dedication to the other limbs of yoga. I don't know you so I can't give any accurate advice. Once you absorb Dr. Sarno's KNOWLEDGE PENICILLIN into your mindbody, you will know you the best, it may take a little while. Talk to your teacher about your feelings before or after class and if she's not sympatico, find a new teacher or do your own thing at your own pace--you don't need to come away from class with some new TMS triggers, Iyengar yoga is good--maybe hold off on the ashtanga classes for a while.
    Lainey, plum, Lily Rose and 1 other person like this.
  4. Wyndra

    Wyndra Newcomer

    You're perfectly right. I KNOW there is nothing structually wrong with my body since even the doctors have told me so, and medical studies have shown no abnormalities (yay!), though they differ on the actual cause of my psychogenic pain with Sarno's theory (lack of oxygenation on specific areas vs. a reduction on my pain threshold due to anxiety & stress --> this is what my rheumatologist told me. The real cause makes no practical difference to me.)

    But experience tells me that, even if my pain is psychosomatic, I usually feel a big onset of it during and after Yoga class. I am tempted to try another activity to see what it does with my pain levels. Maybe it's the same thing, maybe not.
  5. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I've been doing Hatha Yoga (Bikram) for 3 years now following my recovery from TMS. It still hurts to do most of the poses most of the time. However, it doesn't hurt after I'm done, so your situation is different. At first I thought the pain was due to being de-conditioned after 20 years with fibromyalgia. But it still hurts 3 years later. From reading Bikram's book and listening to his audio recordings on the routine, he states it is supposed to hurt, as that is how you are pushing yourself to become more flexible, etc. I know in the Westernized version of yoga, they tell you to stop if it hurts. But I wonder if this is a risk management strategy that has been adopted in our litigious culture. It is probably a good idea to consult with your instructor about it. Maybe try something different. I still do Bikram yoga regularly anyway, because I like how it makes me feel afterward. Pushing through the pain during yoga class has helped to de-sensitize me to pain somewhat. It's definitely not for everyone.
    Bodhigirl likes this.
  6. EileenS

    EileenS Well known member

    I haven't tried Iyengar yoga, but it looks more intense than regular hatha. I'd suggest trying regular hatha, one where you see students are a mix of body types (less pressure to perform) and the instructor gives modified poses. Or try yin yoga or bikram if you can stand the heat.
  7. MindBodyPT

    MindBodyPT Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Wyndra,

    I also do yoga but it took some time to be able to do it pain-free. I think having a more nurturing instructor is important. If you enjoy i'd say keep doing it but find a teacher who is patient and understands limitations, isn't severe. You could start out with gentle yoga or restorative yoga and go from there. Is there another teacher or studio you could try? I found a great one with many different levels and classes, very true to the original intent of yoga being preparation for meditation...there is a large component of meditation in the classes as well, they aren't meant to be intense cardio exercise.

    As far as the pain-you may be having pain due to conditioning, which is a lot of what I experienced. Know there is nothing wrong with your spine but you've been conditioned to feel pain with certain postures and such, and that takes time to go away. Psychosomatic pain is real pain!

    You could also try some other forms of exercise- whatever feels good to you! Tai chi is good for balance, weight lifting will help you get stronger, cardio will help your endurance, or consider some other classes, dance or sport that you like. There are so many options.
    Bodhigirl and Wyndra like this.
  8. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Iyengar yoga was developed by Mr. Iyengar of Pune, to actually make hatha yoga easier and more available to everyone through the use of the props, such as blocks and belts . He passed away but his daughter Geeta continues his work. Most people wind up in a pool of sweat after their first few classes, but after a few headstands you start relaxing and getting into the flow of it.:playful:
  9. EileenS

    EileenS Well known member

    The hatha yoga classes I've been to over the decades has rarely included the more extreme poses. Rarely has a class included headstands, plow, or anything that is difficult for the average person or possibly harmful (western litigation). I think the point all of us are saying is, go to a yoga class where you aren't feeling pressured to go into a pose. Yoga to us westerners is about relaxing and centering and keepng the body supple and having fun.
  10. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    I meant that in jest :)--but inversions according to Mr. Iyengar, should be 70% of the practice for senior yoga students. They don't have to be headstands or handstands, shoulder stands are inversions too. They give all those sphincter muscles a break, reversing the effects of gravity they've been working against all these years. Also, increasing the blood flow to the gray matter, washing out all that debris clogging up the neural molecular traffic system--it's kinda' like reformatting your computer's hard-drive to make it operate more efficiently.
    Bodhigirl likes this.
  11. Wyndra

    Wyndra Newcomer

    Hi Tom! This must be the case for many yoga classes. The first time I tried yoga it was exactly as you say. This is why I stuck with this teacher. She is by no means a demonstrator, focuses on the non-physical part of yoga (breathing, mantras, making the body ready for medidation) and gives classes for 4-7 people tops, all of them in her range of vision (we usually do it in a circle, there's no "back of the class"), and she always comes and corrects our posture when we are doing it wrong. Yet, sometimes even this is too hard for me, especially the first 24 hours after class.

    I don't want to think "postures are too long", since I have no real problem on my body. I feel disappointed and puzzled since my body has no injuries and this is all mind-driven. But I am willing to try another physical activity as an experiment, to see what happens. If it's all the same, I might as well go back to yoga.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  12. Wyndra

    Wyndra Newcomer

    Maybe I'll try another type of yoga, maybe hatha, just to try it out. Something "slow" like this one (iyengar), since cardio-like activies aren't for me (I must NOT lose weight).

    I know every one of us is different, but can I ask how much it took for you to do it pain-fee? Months? Years?

    Balsa11 likes this.
  13. Wyndra

    Wyndra Newcomer

    I understand. It is difficult for me. I try to avoid pain at all costs. Maybe this is the problem! But I don't like feeling horrible all week...
    Balsa11 likes this.
  14. Mtngal

    Mtngal Well known member

    Hi Wyndra. I've been doing Yoga for about 10 years, thru pain flares and when my back has been fine. It's never hurt during or after Yoga. But our teacher is very good, we do a lot of warm up, and it's not really fast paced flow Yoga. In fact one of the mind body techniques I use is to remind myself that if I can do Yoga, then I can do this ("this being whatever--standing or doing something at work). I'm wondering if your instructor is doing proper warmup and also if she goes at a fast pace. Maybe you feel pressured to "keep up" and your muscles tense.
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  15. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    I just did a search for yoga and found this thread from last April. Appreciated it a lot. I have been doing yoga since I was 16 and formal hot yoga, 26 asanas, for nearly 20 years. In fact, hurting myself in yoga (pop! went my hamstring) was what got me to the orthopedist who insisted I read John Sarno's books. He told me to keep doing my yoga, that there was nothing there to hurt me but my own thinking.
    When I attend 2-4 classes a week in addition to home practice every day as part of meditation it does exactly what it's supposed to do: gets me into the present moment and the focus is on staying in that present moment, with the boundary of the yoga mat: nothing off the mat is allowed in. I wander and bring my attention back over and over and over again.
    I am often afraid of being hurt in yoga. Over my TMS recovery years, I have learned to aim low and not expect too much of myself. I have learned to be patient, more accepting, have better humor about myself and others.
    Today, a woman behind me was making angry faces at herself in the mirror. THAT WAS ME. I was so grateful to see her struggle with her emotions. I still do that some days and as soon as I reach self-compassion, then the rest of the people in the room fade away and I truly have an enlightened moment. All for the sake of the stillness that follows each asana.
    That stillness is where I find my center, which allows me to be hopeful that life has deep meaning if I only listen.
    Balsa11 and Lily Rose like this.
  16. JoeHealingTms

    JoeHealingTms Peer Supporter

    I think all that is holding you is just fear. I was having all these fears about not sitting with my back straight, etc, just as Sarno described on his books. This learned fears and warnings predispose us to be more aware than we have to and the brain, using this, creates immediate extra tension just at the though of going into different positions. You said that it put you into great misery " a couple of hours later". That you could use as a reinforcement to believe, because it is clearly telling you that there is nothing wrong in your back. A real structural problem would give you immediate pain, not hours later. If you had tms for a while, what is actually hurting when you stretch could very well be the trigger points that have formed by lack of oxygenation on those muscles. Some deep tissue massage, either by yourself or someone else might help you overcome that temporary state. You are not supposed to not be paying attention to the moving pains, you are suppose to actually pay attention from an observer point, while relaxed, and tell yourself that you are safe. Until you do that phase of observing them relaxed and being ok with them, you can not ignore them, otherwise they become more powerful, at least on my own experience. Dont be confused, read and re read the books. Each paragraph have some pearls of wisdom to apply.
    Bodhigirl likes this.
  17. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Well, I don't think that yoga should hurt. I am doing yoga for 3 years now and the only time my muscles are aching afterwards is when the stretches were very hard and for a longer time. Otherwise my body feels tired in a good sense directly after the yoga. At home I do positions that help my pelvic area to be more relaxed and not tight. I am unfortunately not so disciplined that I do it every day. As others now also said, it is important that the yoga teacher is also focusing on relaxation, that the muscles are warm enough etc.
    Maybe you could take a hot bath after yoga or go to the sauna? Wish you luck!!
    Bodhigirl likes this.
  18. zoebray

    zoebray Newcomer

    Well, yoga doesn't hurt but it is difficult to have it daily. There are probably a few yoga postures to lose weight and if you have them you can lose weight at the same time make your body flexible. However, many people are surprised to experience pain, discomfort, or soreness during or after a yoga class. Yoga stretches the body in unfamiliar ways and engages muscles that aren't accessed every day. That's why even people who exercise regularly and are otherwise fit may feel sore from yoga.
    Lainey likes this.
  19. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yoga, if done properly, should be exerting your body, but not to the point of breaking it. Our bodies can take a lot. I often feel a bit nervous about pushing myself too hard in my yoga practice, but in the past 17 years I never broke anything. The last time I did it was one unsuccessful headstand 17 years ago and that taught me a lesson about my limits.

    As you move along, you learn how much it is OK to push. The main rule in yoga is to never compete against anybody: against your classmates, against your instructor, against that ultra flexible gal on the cover of Yoga Magazine, not even against yourself. Yoga is a dialog between your mind and your body. In the pain of a stretch, find the nirvana of release, relaxation and unity with your body. People treat yoga as a some kind of gymnastics, while in fact it is a meditation through exertion of your body. Take years to learn it as a meditation practice, but try it! Enjoy!
    Balsa11, Lainey and Dorado like this.
  20. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    If you give it few months of patience, you will be rewarded! Remember, yoga is not about competing with Simone Biles. It is about exploring your body and mind and making slow but steady progress, safely!

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