Monday, February 7, 2011

Yoga / bodywork addiction - good or bad?

I don't have a disciplined 6-day Ashtanga practice.  Last year I established a semi-regular routine where I practiced some sort of yoga (Power or Hot) about 3-4 times per week. In December, I went on vacation in Asia for 3 weeks.  I had not been on a plane ever since I took up yoga, so I thought that regular yoga practice would help me settle easier on the plane since I had become more flexible over the last year. I was completely wrong. On the plane trip back to Asia, I kept feeling this great desire to stretch. I couldn't stop squirming around in my seat, doing hamstring stretches, neck stretches, spinal twists, arm stretches, you name it. I left my seat about 3 times to the back of the plane where there was a bigger floor space and did every pose that didn't look too ridiculous, including forward folds, mini dancer's pose, mild triangle, more twists, neck circles, etc.  I felt like I had earthworms inside of me struggling to wiggle their way out.  After 3 weeks of doing almost zero yoga, my plane trip back to North America felt much more at ease. I didn't feel the need to wring out all my body parts like a towel and stretch them in every direction possible.

I didn't go back to yoga class right away and recently I'm just slowly building up my yoga practice to 2-3 times a week.  Now I feel and probably act like a squirmy earthworm again whenever I'm sitting still. Doing mild stretches just makes me want to stretch more. I blame it on the excellent Thai massages and deep tissue massages and Ashtanga adjustments I've been receiving the past year. I feel like my body is suffering from pamper withdrawal.  It's demanding more frequent deeper stretches, more yoga poses, and quality massages. It's as if I have a drug addiction. I'm worried if I keep on doing yoga, am I just going to become more and more flexible, and is my body going to scream at me if I don't wrap my leg behind my head at least once a day?  I thought committing to a more frequent yoga practice was the establishment of self-discipline, which would be a positive thing; but this feeling of yoga / bodywork withdrawal is kind of concerning.

For those who have practice yoga regularly for a few years (or decades), do you experience the same thing if you take a break from yoga for an extended period of time (say, a few weeks)? I look forward to hearing your opinions/experiences.


  1. Yes, you will get to the point where your back will be in extreme agony when you wake up every morning, and will keep screaming at you until you give it its daily kapotasana fix! :-) Now you know why I do kapotasana :-)

    Have I succeeded in scaring you away from Ashtanga yet? But seriously, I think that when you start doing yoga, your mind/body learns a new way of comporting itself in this world, and will always want to be in a place where it feels good (i.e. certain yoga poses). Of course, there are many people who go through life without ever having experienced this, and therefore never feel that anything is amiss in their mind/body's experience of the world. Or sometimes, they don't feel that anything is amiss until somebody not so nice happens (e.g. when they pull or dislocate something in the course of daily activity). So I think that it is actually good that your body craves/is addicted to yoga and bodywork. I mean, there are much worse things to be addicted to :-)

  2. Oh, in my last comment, I meant to say "until something not so nice happens", not "until somebody not so nice happens." This is what happens when I don't proofread what I write :-)

  3. Thanks Nobel. I got my fix today so I'm happy. Maybe I'll have to start viewing yoga as a vital part of my life, like food and water.

  4. Yep! I definitely get that wiggly feeling if I go 2 days in a row without's enough to get me on the mat 6 days a week most of the time...even if I only do a little bit once I get there. :)

  5. Thanks Christine. I guess eventually I'll try to build up a 6 day practice.