I managed to make it to yoga again last night, this time for an all-levels hatha class. (Two days in a row? Holla!) I had no idea what to expect, so I went into it ready to just dive into whatever we were doing, despite still being super sore from Sunday.
It was a great class that was slow moving with more focus on finding your breathing rhythm. The instructor, David, had an approach that I thought was really interesting - he wanted us to ask questions. Not just metaphysical "what's the meaning of life" type stuff (although he did answer that, spoiler alert, its sustained joy!) but also things like "why does my back hurt?" and "is it normal that my knee makes that weird popping sound?" The girl on the mat next to me mentioned she was having some neck pain from acupuncture, and the other two classmates echoed similar pains in the neck and shoulders, so he adjusted the class to really work on those places and alleviate whatever pains we were having, which was great.
The one thing he said that I really thought about for quite some time after was in regards to headstands. I have very little upper body strength. I can do one push up, maybe two if you forced me. Because of this, I actually struggle with downward facing dog, which is used in every yoga class I do and always becomes a frustration. One person in class echoed a similar sentiment when discussing headstands, saying that her neck always bothered her afterwards, and he very genuinely responded with "don't do them, then."
In my experience, whenever someone complains or struggles with a certain pose, the instructor teaches them variations to build up to that pose. Yet, in this case, David very much supported the idea of not doing headstands. His explanation was pretty simple - yoga is supposed to lengthen, stretch and strengthen. If you're doing something that is doing the opposite of those things, and/or is causing you pain, and repeatedly, then you probably aren't meant to do that thing. He mentioned that although he could do a headstand over and over again, it really bothered his back, and the whole point of yoga is to find a path to joy, not pain.
The philosophy made perfect sense, but it was something I had never really thought about logically. But it makes sense - why force yourself to do something that continually causes you pain? I suppose that sort of mentality could be used in so many ways in our lives. Definitely something to think about.
I'm taking a break tonight and possibly doing something I've never done before (more on that later) but am planning on getting back into the swing of things tomorrow night with some restorative. Which is all just in preparation for the 4 hours of binge eating I'll be partaking in at the LA Street Food Fest on Saturday. Hell, yes.