My name is Jeana, and I have yoga butt.
Don’t get excited–not that kind.
“Yoga butt” is a term for a hamstring injury, one that often occurs after repetitive vigorous practice in Ashtanga or (my favorite) vinyasa yoga. It also often happens to naturally flexible people. I’m going to be very adamant in the future to any inflexible person that they are absolutely perfect for yoga, and in fact, quite fortunate. They have the advantages: 1) Lower risk of injury and 2) They get more out of less. Twisting yourself into a pretzel is something you only do if that’s what you have to do to get the benefit of the posture. If you get the benefit from just reaching for your toes, then great! You get to do less!
Anyway, you’d think this yoga butt thing wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but it can cause pain in not just your hamstrings, but your butt (hence the strange name that obliges one to specify “injury” in a Google search), your back, your IT band, and your knees.
In short, it sucks.
I tried some easy fixes, like bending my knees more during forward bends, but alas, it hasn’t helped enough. So now it’s becoming necessary to slow down my yoga practice, which is hard and frustrating, which probably also means it’s good for me. Even though I’m not a hardcore athlete (at all), I like to move and sweat, strrrretch then move through a vinyasa, balance in crow for as long as possible. That kind of intensity has served me in many ways, allowing me a lot of good release. But that tendency towards intensity can make one forget about keeping the integrity of the poses and remembering that yoga is not all about asana.
Sometimes I get a little bored with poses like bridge (I want to do wheel!) and locust (I want to do bow!), even though logically I fully recognize the benefits of these poses. Not because I’m great at them, but I’m just always eager to get to push to the limit. It’s contrary to my nature to slow down and be gentle.
But it’s time I learn how to slow down and be gentle. My body is telling me so in not-so-subtle ways now.
And even though I’m feeling a little reluctant, I’m also kind of excited. I get to explore yoga in a different way and learn better habits that I can bring to any form of practice. I’ve tried to be mindful and patient before, but this will teach me to really be mindful and patient–and to accept my limits wherever they really are.