“Overdoing It” in Yoga

I try to stay connected as best I can to yoga by not only teaching, but maintaining a regular home practice and attending other group classes around town. Last week I went to the $8 Saturday afternoon community class at Silverlake Yoga.

Silverlake Yoga is a no-frills but decent facility. Ideally, if I open a studio I hope to have a front check-in area where check-in can be done separately, rather than the class and check-in all in one room. My only other small problem with this studio is that it’s on a very noisy corner of Glendale and Rowena, and the din of delivery trucks and traffic cut into the peaceful quiet of the classroom. But we do what we can in these tough times!

As with community classes, there was a varied and talkative group of warm and friendly folks of all ages, walks of life, and body types. I was VERY impressed by the keen eye and thorough instruction of Laurie Parlapiano. She really knows her stuff and has a great personality and commanding but loving presence. I think her background must be heavily informed by Iyengar, as her detailed instructions and use of props reminded me of teachers of that school. There was minimal focus on spiritual, excellent pranayama exercises at the beginning, and a thorough class.

Laurie had asked me after the class if I teach, and also targeted me a lot during some of the Asanas. It is so critical, no matter how many years you have been studying or even teaching, to continue to have other people watch your form. An interesting thing Laurie noted while I was in both low lunge and Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose), was to “take it easy and back off slightly”. I am sort of “famous” (ha ha) for my incredibly open and flexible hips–particularly in pigeon pose or lizard pose. Laurie said: “It may seem like it feels good and you can certainly take these poses deeply, but sometimes overdoing it in these hip openers can cause us some pain as we get older…and our hips get older.” I thought that was a loving and observant thing to say, but I am a bit unsure about how far I should take hip openers now, or really any pose. I think that essentially, she was saying not to rely on putting all the energy into just one joint just because I can, and to make sure the overall pose is a full-body integration.

I did have an ouchy lower back a bit after the class–I think this was due to an exercise we did where we lay on our backs, with knees bent and feet flat, and Laurie challenged us to slowly roll up and down without lifting our feet. I think if doing such an exercise, you need to be very cautious and realistic with yourself if you’ve had a history of back problems like I have. And after so many zealous hip openers, I was slightly touchy in my hip joints a well. The minor pain went away after a day, but the moral of the story is: Don’t “show off” (like I tend to do) and either 1) rush it 2) push too hard.

Be gentle to yourself! I try to be so gentle with my students…I need to show that same kindness to my own body and expectations of myself.

McKenna Rowe is the Founder of Chakra 5 Mobile Yoga, an experienced team of corporate yoga instructors that provides mobile yoga classes on location and by appointment at businesses, schools and organizations throughout greater Los Angeles. Call us to start your corporate wellness program today: 310-853-3885.

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