Monday, August 10, 2015

How to Know Your Limits In a Yoga Class

By Janine L. Agoglia

One aspect of practicing yoga is listening to your body. The Ego is usually the louder voice in your head, telling you “it is too hard,” or “I can do that too,” even if your body isn’t ready. The Ego is from where both judgements and injuries come. When you listen to your Ego, sometimes you are missing out on an opportunity for growth, and sometimes you are going beyond your limitations and end up hurt.

When you listen to your Body, injuries almost never happen. Listening to your Body means tuning out the thoughts in your head and instead paying attention to what you are feeling physically. Each type of sensation is give different information; understanding that information is key to knowing your limits.

Sharp pain means back off of what you are doing, you will most likely cause injury or exacerbate an existing condition if you keep pushing through.

Vague, diffuse pain is okay. This is that stretching sensation that you get when you are elongating your muscles. This pain should be somewhere between a 3-7 on a scale of 1-10; to benefit from the stretch it should be higher than a 3, but to avoid injury it should be no higher than a 7. Pushing through a 7 is where many injuries happen.

When you feel shaking, what you are doing will determine how you should respond. If you are shaking because your muscles are working really hard, like in Warrior II, that is less problematic, but you can back off and ease back in after a momentary rest and that might ease the shaking. Shaking while stretching can also occur and can mean that you need to readjust your alignment or try a little less if you are forcing yourself into a stretch. That type of shaking is usually your body resisting in some way, so if you back off and relax into the stretch you may find it more comfortable.

Another way to gauge your limits is how your mind and breath are reacting to what you are doing. When you are in a pose, is your mind racing and your breathing shallow and fast, or can you breathe deeply and relax your mind? The former situation means “back off” and the latter means “ all is good, continue on.”

Yoga is about mindfulness. The more you can tune into the sensations in your body while you practice, the more likely you will be to have a safe, fun yoga practice.

Janine L. Agoglia has been teaching Vinyasa yoga since 1998. Her yoga journey started in 1995 with Iyengar Yoga and she discovered Vinyasa yoga in 1997. The combination of breath with proper body alignment is what fuels her practice and the classes that she teaches. Janine believes that yoga should be safe as well as challenging, creative and fun. She always emphasizes proper alignment within the flow, as well as focus, breath and humor to help students find the balance between strength and ease. Deepening one’s physical awareness helps one strengthen his/her spiritual awareness and mind-body connection. Janine loves being able to help people deepen their own practices, finding yoga in everyday life on and off the mat. Her DVD, “Vinyasa Yoga for Regular People” is available for purchase at the front desk at Lumina Mind Body Studios in Wayland, MA.

In addition to being the Co-Director of Yoga and teaching yoga at Lumina Mind Body Studios, Janine is also a Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist who practices Integrative Therapeutics in Natick, MA.

To contact Janine, please email

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