Why it is not good to hold Yoga Poses for long time – 21 Mar 11


We have had a wonderful celebration weekend, with Ramona’s birthday on Saturday and a big Holi party on Sunday. It was lots of coloured powder, lots of coloured water and lots of fun! Everybody enjoyed it very much. Yashendu also gave the yoga workshop to the participants of the Ayurveda Yoga Holiday and in that time I remembered another incident that I wanted to tell you about.

Once in a healing session, someone asked me about a certain yoga practice. He had heard that one of his teachers was able to remain in each yoga pose that he did for a complete half an hour.

‘But when I try this, I start getting pain so quickly. I bend forward in Paschimottasana and my back hurts, I sit in Padmasana, the lotus seat and my knee hurts, I am in the shoulder stand and my hips start aching. What can I do to reach that level?’

As he asked me for my opinion, I did not hold back with it. I told him that I thought this idea was completely wrong, simply a wrong approach to any physical exercise and definitely a wrong way to practice yoga.

First of all, there are many poses which are physically harmful if you hold them for such a long time. There are postures for example that hurt and injure your joints after a certain time because they are twisted in an unusual position which is not how your body is meant to be. Inversion postures, such as the shoulder stand and the head stand, should never be performed longer than ten minutes. These poses are beneficial for you because more blood flows towards the head due to gravity but if you keep it for a long time, this same fact can harm the blood vessels in the head due to the increased blood pressure. What is good for you for a short time is harmful if you do it for that long.

Even if you practice a posture that is medically fine to hold for such a long time, you should never ever exceed the limits of your body. It is not any miracle if someone can do this. The human body is very flexible and you can practice and train it to do nearly whatever you want. But it is wrong. Why would you give pain and hurt to your body in order to force it into an unnatural position for a long time? Yoga is meant to be enjoyed. It is not a competition and it is nothing that is goal-oriented. Feel the benefit of a pose when you are in the pose, no matter how well you can perform it.

Don’t give pain to your body or cross your own limits! Listen to your body and what it tells you, it knows best what is good for you.

8 Replies to “Why it is not good to hold Yoga Poses for long time – 21 Mar 11”

  1. I’ve learned that the original traditional purpose of postural and Hatha yoga was to learn discipline and control by Spirit and will over the body, rather than the other way around. But especially in materialist cultures of the West, it has developed into physical acrobatic performances. As a Kriya yoga practicer, the perspective I’ve learned is that yoga is primarily in practices of the Spirit, soul, reason, and will, and exercises of the body may be required in these processes, but it should not be forgotten that yoga is primarily a practice of Spirit rather than of body. I’ve noticed that many Hatha yoga practicers especially in the West seem to have forgotten this. I think that if one understands yoga according to its traditional intentions as primarily in practices of Spirit rather than of body, there will be less inclinations to pursue it as a physical acrobatic performance that is taken to unhealthy extremes, as in your example of the yoga teacher who brags that he can hold physical poses for a half hour.

  2. It is never needed to cross our body’s limits. It is the nature of our limits that whenever we reach them, they slowly increase, so you will every day be able to do a bit more. It is never necessary to cross the limits and should not be done. It doesn’t matter if it is a sitting pose, standing pose, bending pose or balancing pose.

  3. Yoga is never a competition and when i heard about this idea to hold a pose for that long, I really asked myself what the aim was. Who can hold the pose the longest?It is just not only about the body. Of course, if you are flexible and strong, you can do many great things and yes, yoga definitely helps your body to stay fit and healthy a long time, but there is more to it!
    There has to be some day when yoga will be seen as a whole way again instead of gymnastics only…
    But maybe it is just human to compare and start a competition of who can do better, further, longer?

  4. That is a great picture! :))And a lovely text as well. My yoga teacher always emphasized that we should see and feel ourselves how long we wanted to stay in an asana. It is very individual because not every body can do everything. My back would kill me if I tried to bend forward for half an hour!
    People, feel yourself what is right for you!

  5. This is so much relieving …. if the stress to be perfect is taken from the shoulder and you allow yourself to be how you are then you can enjoy what you are doing, what ever it is. Thank you for bringing this around…. I confess I tend to forget this! :)))

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