Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher
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Stretching, If It Feels So Good,
Why Don't We Do It?

by: Dena Glazer

The most common comment I get as a teacher of yoga is, "I went home from class and had so much energy, and I felt great!" Why do so many people deny themselves this sensation time and again?

One reason is fear. "I have an injured (knee), (back), (neck), etc. AND I'm afraid that this exercise regime that made me feel so good is going to reinjure that part, so I just won't chance it." (Let me clue you in, LIFE is chance!)

Not doing leads to stagnation, stiffness, more pain; a downward spiral. Doing incorrectly can hurt you; if not immediately, then down the road. It paves the way for other injuries to sneak in. Doing correctly CAN, over time, reverse the downward spiral and lead you toward health.

Seek a qualified teacher whom you trust to guide you.

Another excuse is, "I'm tired and just don't want to go to class." Go anyway. You'll feel better when you leave.

Money gets in the way for some. Most yoga teachers will work with you (scholarships or barter) if your desire or need is sincere.

The emphasis in this country is on strength and speed.“Let the machine do it for me.” Without proper stretching, strengthening leads to stiffness and pain by shortening the muscle, creating bulk which leads to imbalance. As an example, look at the jock who increases his chest and neck area but can't raise his arms over his head. Your execution of all forms of exercise will be enhanced when you stretch properly. Some exercise "professionals" have little experience in proper stretching.

If the exercise you are doing is something you enjoy, keep doing it AND find a qualified yoga teacher and have her/him critique your routine to improve and add balance to it. Try it for 3 months (minimum) and notice how your body has responded.

Be sure your teacher is knowledgeable. (S)he should have had a minimum of 5 years experience plus a year or more of apprenticeship and a mentor to consult. Improper movements can take up to 20 years to manifest pain. At 20 or 30, one moves more easily and quickly and recovers from injuries faster than those of us over 40. It takes experience and a certain maturity to understand what pain can mean. The world's foremost yoga teacher, Iyengar, trained his daughter, Geeta, by requiring her to teach old people before he allowed her to teach the masses just so she could learn to pay attention and to realize the limitations of our bodies by years of poor habits. Learn to move smarter. Build your strength, flexibility and endurance with yoga. Over time, your own body weight, when utilized properly, will bring you the desired goal. Add stretching to your life. You'll like it!