Tag Archives: gentle yoga

Yoga Butt

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.

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Gentle Hatha

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I try to make it to a slower class once a week, one that’s not at my usual studio. It’s taught by an instructor who specializes in yoga therapy, and she’s very empathetic, easy to talk to, and compassionate. Her class is mellow and slow-paced, at least compared to my usual vinyasa flow classes.

So you would think going to these gentle hatha sessions would calm me down, zen me out, give me a refuge from the sweaty workout I endure in my other classes.

Ultimately, they do. But first, I get angry.

Yes, gentle yoga pisses me off.

After my first yin class, I swore off slower-paced yoga. It’s so dull, I whined. But that wasn’t really the issue. The issue was that it forced me to be with my thoughts and my emotions. Vinyasa can do that too, but in that case I can use the physical intensity of the asanas to quiet down my mind. With a slower-paced, gentler class, I cannot escape into the flow. Often we hold poses for a longer amount of time–“easy” poses which, as it turns out, aren’t so easy at all.

This is how gentle yoga brings me face-to-face with my ego. When you go into anything assuming it will be easy but end up contending with some struggles instead, your ego suffers.

This is a good thing. It makes you more aware of your preconceptions, your insecurities, your fears. Eventually, if you let it, it can serve to help you let go of things you need not be holding onto.

But it also kicks your ass a little bit. Or a lot. What’s that Gloria Steinem quote? 

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”

Yoga brings me to my truth. And sometimes, it really does piss me off.

And I couldn’t be more thankful for that. Though vinyasa is still my favorite type of yoga, gentle hatha has also given me more than I ever expected.

Since today is Tuesday (meaning it’s Gratitude Tuesday, in Jeana world), here are also two more things I am grateful for:

  • Music. Somehow I forget sometimes how much music can help me, but it’s always a wonderful feeling to remember. In particular, it’s been helping me grow my at-home yoga practice a little more.
  • This semester of grad school. Though I’m still not sure there’s a place for me within the journalism world, I have come so much closer to realizing what my true passions are, and I’ve accomplished more than I thought that I could. At the beginning, I didn’t even know if I would be able to make it through one week of classes.

What are you thankful for this week?

I’ve been a bit out of the loop recently due to the end-of-the-semester schoolwork insanity, but I look forward to catching up on some blogs.

Namaste, friends!