Are You Practicing Yoga Too Much? Here’s How to Determine (and Why It Can Be Risky)

Are You Practicing Yoga Too Much? Here’s How to Determine (and Why It Can Be Risky)

You can feel energised, stronger, and calmer all at once after taking a yoga lesson.

“After practicing yoga, many of us notice that our minds feel clearer and calmer, and there seems to be a little bit more energy available to us,” says Baxter Bell, MD, a yoga instructor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bell holds a 500-hour Yoga Alliance credential and individual yoga therapist certification from the International Association of Yoga Therapists (eRYT 500).

He claims that it can be a great tool for controlling the stress in our lives.

But according to experts, you can overdo yoga depending on the kind and frequency of your practice.

Yoga comes in a variety of forms, from the strenuous “power” courses to yoga nidra, which is the closest thing to sleeping while doing yoga (it’s also known as “yogic sleep”). According to Dr. Bell, if you practice a range of yoga techniques, it’s probably fine for you to do a moderate amount of yoga every day if you’re in excellent condition.

According to him, if you practice a form of yoga that is too advanced for you or one that is too severe (without enough rest) you can definitely overdo it when it comes to the demands you’re placing on your body physically. “It’s about balance – if we do too little, we may not receive the benefits we’re hoping for, and if we do too much, we may have issues like injuries,” says Bell.

So, how exactly can you practice yoga too much? How do you tell when you are exerting too much effort in your yoga practice?

How You May Be Overdoing It With Yoga

Here are a few indicators of a yoga practice that is excessively harmful.

Yoga Is Interfering with Your Sleep, Social Life, or Other Health-Promoting Activities

The manager of the yoga program at Cleveland Clinic Wellness and Preventive Medicine, Judi Bar (C-IAYT, eRYT 500), observes: “You don’t often hear somebody say: Oh no, I’ve been meditating too much lately.” The reality is that we don’t perform that aspect of our practice frequently enough.

Although it’s uncommon, Bell claims that if your yoga practice is affecting your sleep, your social life, your job, or any other obligations, you may be overdoing the meditative part of the exercise.

You’re Pushing Yourself Too Hard Physically and Skipping Rest Days

Bell is aware of the propensity towards pushing oneself. I was a triathlon, a road cyclist, a rock climber, and a doctor when I first encountered yoga in the 1990s. I was cramming as much as I could into the little free time I had since I didn’t have much of it, and that frequently left me fatigued.

According to Bell, overexerting yourself physically can take the form of a really taxing exercise that you perform nonstop for several days in a succession. Or perhaps you (like Bell before you) practice yoga at a level that is excessive for all the other exercise you are getting. According to him, exerting too much physical effort can strain the body and increase the chance of issues like overuse injuries by causing discomfort and exhaustion in the numerous muscles and joints you’re exercising.

You’re Taking Classes That Are Too Advanced or Too Intense

According to Bell, taking classes that are too challenging for you or that are over your capacity might lead to overexertion and injury.

Find an introductory session in the yoga style you’re interested in practicing if you’re a beginner, advises Bell. According to him, many classes billed as “core power yoga” or “power vinyasa” are intermediate or advanced in nature. Vinyasa, which meaning movement and breath, is frequently taught at a rapid pace.

Even in that situation, it’s a good idea to start with a beginner-level class, he advises. “If you’re younger and healthier, you’ll definitely have better ease adapting to and appreciating some of the more physically demanding kinds of yoga,” he says.

Also take into account how fit you are. Look for a class at a tempo that feels right for you and isn’t too difficult if your level of fitness is lower, your age or a health condition limits your physical capabilities, advises Bell.

The Symptoms of Over-Pushing in Your Yoga Practice

Pay attention to your breath, advises Carol Krucoff (C-IAYT, eRYT 500), author of Yoga Sparks: 108 Easy Practices for Stress Relief in a Minute or Less, to determine if you’re pushing your body past its limitations during a class. She advises not exhaling so forcefully or tensely that you are unable to concentrate on breathing. You can still exercise your muscles or push yourself physically when doing yoga, she argues, but you shouldn’t become out of breath.

According to her, yoga is really about concentrating on the breath. According to Krucoff, yoga is not practiced while a person is trembling and their breathing is heavy.

According to her, if you do experience shortness of breath while practicing yoga, it may be an indication that you’re performing poses you’re not ready for or that the class is not right for you.

Another warning sign that you might be overdoing it with yoga is pain and significant discomfort. Even the most well-intentioned yogis, especially beginners, may feel like they’ve overdone it a day or two after a yoga class, according to Bell. I advise my new pupils to pay attention to how they feel after class, shortly before night, and the following day, he says.

According to Bell, if you have some mild (but not incapacitating) discomfort in less-used muscles that goes away over the course of a day or two, Bell believes it’s likely a typical and healthy reaction to your body being pushed. He continues, “You may truly have overdone it if you’re genuinely experiencing more of a discomfort sensation that doesn’t go away after a couple days. You should get checked out by a doctor.”

What Are the Risks of Doing Too Much Yoga?

Yoga has a physical component, so like any other physical practice, it can be overdone and result in more severe injuries, according to Bell.

People I know who practice fast vinyasa flow have torn their hamstring tendons and experienced chronic discomfort in that region. According to research, full inverted poses like headstand and shoulder stand can cause neck injuries.

Excessive exertion is one of the leading causes of injury while practicing yoga, according to a survey of 1,336 yoga instructors that was published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy. According to the teachers, the neck, lower back, knee, shoulder, and wrist were the most frequently injured areas.

Another study that looked at yoga-related medical visits between 2001 and 2014 indicated that the most typical injuries were sprains and strains to the chest, back, shoulders, and abdomen. This study was published in November 2016 in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine (and the cause of 46.6 percent of yoga injuries).

According to Krucoff, practicing too much of a single type of yoga might exacerbate current problems or result in a new one.

According to Bar, excessive hot yoga practice can result in nausea, dizziness, or fogginess that can be brought on by electrolyte imbalance or dehydration. Hot yoga is often performed in rooms that are between 90 and 105 degrees.

One of the advantages of hot yoga is that your muscles warm up more quickly, but one of the drawbacks is that you sometimes can’t tell whether you’ve pulled a muscle or tore a ligament in a hot session. Ligaments aren’t designed to stretch, in contrast to muscles and tendons, she claims.

Expert Tips for a Healthy Yoga Practice

Balance is essential for a successful and joyful yoga practice, according to all three experts. Here’s what the experts advise to prevent overdoing it (or to get back on track if you are pushing yourself too hard with yoga).

  • Try a quick drill. Bell advises making practice sessions only 15 or 20 minutes long. The risk of posture overuse would be minimal, he claims, even if you did it every day or with only one or two days off per week. He continues, “And it’s a terrific way for newbies to get into it.”
  • Be aware of your body. Make sure you’re not ignoring your body’s crystal-clear warnings, advises Bell. “You should leave the pose for a short period of time if you feel like you’re really struggling, your muscles are trembling a lot, or you can’t keep your alignment correct. If [the class is] maintaining the pose for a little bit longer, you can always go into it again, the instructor advises.
  • Examine yoga styles that require less physical effort. If you frequently practice power or hot yoga, Bar advises switching to a restorative or yin yoga session, where you’ll hold poses for longer. If you’re unsure of what a class will cover, you might want to contact the studio or the instructor because some of the class names are a little complicated, she advises.
  • Take days off if you are doing a physically demanding kind of yoga. “Consider allowing yourself a day of respite in between courses if your practice is centered on a goal, like as growing strength or becoming more flexible,” advises Bell. According to him, you can increase your strength by giving your muscles some time to recover.
  • Start learning about the yoga principles. It would be instructive to go more into some of the underlying principles, including ideas like nonviolence, adds Bell. Exploring the other aspects of the practice will assist you avoid overdoing it because there is more to it than just pushing yourself physically. Try to find methods to be kinder and more forgiving with yourself, he advises.
  • A yoga therapist’s private or intimate sessions are something to think about. They can advise you on how to start a practice, make adjustments, and safely raise the intensity. With a valid prescription for rehabilitation from your doctor, you could even be able to get yoga therapy reimbursed through your physical therapist.

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