Should Yoga be Painful? And is it for me?

Many people feel drawn to trying yoga yet simultaneously put off. Why this dichotomy?

Evening Classes in Bishopdale, Thursdays 7 – 8.30

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What comes to your mind when you think about Yoga? Perhaps:

  1. Images of Yogis from India in a pose with their limbs ‘tied up in knots’
  2. Images of western students of yoga in impossibly difficult postures seemingly defying gravity
  3. You think you have to hold such poses for 8 breaths despite the agony you may be in
  4. Yoga is only for people who are bendy
  5. All of this can be understandably daunting!

How has this confusion come about?

  1. The yogis of ancient India were built physically differently than we are today. In addition, these yogis often dedicated the whole of their time to the practice of Hatha Yoga and Yoga Meditation.
  2. The western theme to approaching exercise has increasingly become of the ‘no pain no gain’ and ‘just do it’ philosophies, so it is not really surprising that some forms of modern yoga have become more and more physically focused.
  3. Sometimes people have attended a type of Hatha Yoga class in the past and found it difficult or even painful. They may again find themselves drawn to learning yoga, but hesitate remembering the pain.
  4. Pain is the body’s way of communicating to the mind that it is under stress.
  5. The point of Hatha Yoga is to relieve stress, not to add stress through inviting painful activity. So you see how people can be confused, ‘I want yoga to relieve stress in my life and to improve my health and well-being, but yoga is painful or only for flexible people, so it would add stress to my life.’

So what is the true essence of Yoga?

  1. Hatha Yoga was designed in ancient India as a way to prepare the body and mind for Meditation.
  2. The Yoga most people think of is Hatha Yoga. There are several types of Yoga including Yoga Meditation, like Pure Meditation taught at the SevaLight Centre for Self-Realization, Meditation & Healing in Bishopdale, Christchurch.
  3. As a preparation for Meditation, Yoga is for easing tension from the body, relaxing all levels of your being, learning to begin to master the breath, learning to begin to focus the mind, becoming more in tune with your body, mind and inner self. Even if you do not yet Meditate, these above benefits are so needed in the busy, stressful world we live in.

What is SevaLight Hatha Yoga?

  1. SevaLight Hatha Yoga, as taught at the Centre, is a gentle, holistic form of Yoga. It helps you to let go of the day’s stresses, learn to relax, improve your breathing and posture, and helps you to tune in with the needs of your body so that you get the exercise that is right for you.
  2. Take the above photo as an example. Many people’s back muscles are tight. To overstretch tight muscles in addition to be painful and causing potential damage does not ease the tension, therefore does not make you any more flexible, in fact the reverse can happen. The best way to release this tension is to bend gently forward until you are getting an enjoyable stretch, without any strain.
  3. We link the movement within Asanas (poses, postures) with the breath, which is not only relaxing, but helps with focus and helps you to master the breath.
  4. The teacher has an awareness of the needs of the students and their conditions, and variations are given to suit individual needs.
  5. Through this approach fitness comes about naturally and steadily.
  6. The benefits of SevaLight Hatha Yoga are many, and we encourage you to visit our page 10 Benefits of Yoga to learn more.

And most importantly, is it for me?

  1. Are the more physically focused, intense forms of yoga wrong? Of course not. The important thing is to consider what it is that you want from your yoga practice and to find the type of yoga classes that are right for you.
  2. If you are wanting to reduce stress, increase your​ ability to relax, improve your self-awareness, and a gentle yet powerfully effective way to get fit on all levels of your being, we recommend booking for the Stage 1 Hatha Yoga Classes or contacting us today to speak with a qualified teacher.


Evening Classes in Bishopdale, Thursdays 7 – 8.30

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