Caution: Yogi Under Construction
As a city grows, it is in a state of construction. That yellow sign tells you to drive with caution at a slower pace for your safety. Consider practicing yoga with the foot a little lighter on the gas pedal. Your body is under a constant state of construction.
Muscles. We like them strong, tight, shaped just so and flexible. And, we want it to happen pretty quickly. Young grasshopper yogis (no chronological age here), have patience. Technology is atrophying the mind's ability to stay still long enough to experience increments of time. Advanced technology is a time thief. Ganga White says it best: "Yoga doesn't take time, it gives time."
Motion is lotion for the body. Muscles, after warmed up, can extend one and a half the original length. The muscle's fibers get micro tears; however, the healing process closes the gap and the message to get thicker, longer, and stronger is processed at the cellular level. Go too far, too fast and muscles, or worse, ligaments or tendons get pulled beyond their edge. Result: pain, inflammation, decreased mobility, and return to ground zero for awhile. Patience presents herself to be respected.
Tendons connect muscle to bone. Ligaments connect tendon to muscle. It's a blend of densities individually wrapped in fascia. Fascia is a connective tissue that sheaths everything. Imagine wrapping every leaf on a tree with Saran wrap. For good measure, wrap each limb...including the wood beneath the bark. Fascia wraps every muscle. Movement creates the heat for the malleability of muscle to increase. But, everything has limits. Stretch a ligament beyond 4% of its original length and it is damaged. Approach creating a pose as a conscious process. Enhance awareness.
Feeling a 'burn' in the muscle is not a good thing contrary to the "no pain, no gain" philosophy. The 'burn' is the body telling you it is being overworked and on the brink of damage. And, guess what, contrary to what you hear, it is not lactic acid taking residence in your muscles. Lactic acid is produced in the muscle cells and red blood cells as carbs are broken down for energy when oxygen levels are low. When the body's muscles get anaerobic (out of O2), the Ph level gets acidic. As a 'homeland security' measure, multiple systems in the body slow down. Lactic acid is absorbed by the lymphatic system. Inflammation of overworked area is the body's way to slow you down for repair. Inflammation causes pain in degrees of swelling. Pain is inflammation's traffic controller. The more inflamed, the worse the pain.
By holding a pose for a minute or longer, the muscle has time to get longer. Smooth, deep breathing provides the oxygen the muscles need. Plus, soreness is reduced by keeping the muscles' chemistry scales balanced. You're less sore post practice. Everyone is happy.
Stay hydrated. Eat a healthy light snack before a good practice. Having an empty stomach before yoga is a misconception. The body needs fuel. Common sense tells you not to have a full stomach...makes any exercise harder. Great light snack to keep your energy/glucose/protein strong can be a mix of dried fruit and nuts. Sometimes I have a smoothie loaded with nutrients after a strong practice and can feel the healthy energy fill up the cells!
https://nuts.com/healthy-snacks is a cool source to check out for these type of goodies:)
Muscles get strong fiber by fiber...layer by layer. It is a magnificent blend of body chemistry at play with the physical components. How you move, what you fuel yourself with, and how you breathe are critical in constructing your yogi body. And, remember, if you plan to keep on doing yoga; you are under a constant state of re-construction. Wait til it gets in the mind..you're likely to get a bird's eye view from a skyscraper you personally built.