Have you ever noticed that certain stretches feel a little bit like your muscles are being set on fire? Does it confuse you a little bit when your yoga teacher suggests that they’re creating that sensation on purpose?
Maybe I can explain.
That burning sensation, which yogis refer to as agni (the divine fire that cleanses and purifies) is a little bit like eating spicy food. When you eat spicy food, your mouth sends a signal to your brain saying, “hey, some
thing’s on fire over here. A little help, please?!”
Your brain accommodates that request by sending endorphins. You learn that the pain of spicy food is going to be quickly followed by an enjoyable hit of endorphins, so you eat some more spicy food. On purpose.
Yoga can work in similar ways. Your muscles stretch, and in the process send that message to your brain.
“Hey, look! Fire! Little help?!?” Your brain sends endorphins.
In addition to the endorphin hit, you also leave the stretch with your muscle and myofascial tissues loosened and lubricated, so everything not only feels a little better but works a little more smoothly too.
This may be one of the reasons yoga feels so addictive. It creates positive sensations in the body, and over time it takes deeper and deeper stretches to kick in those delightful endorphins. Not to worry, though. Yogis have anticipated the need for increasingly challenging poses and there are plenty to choose from as your practice advances.
Join Lisa Meece on Tuesdays, 9:30-10:45am for all levels Vinyasa/Hatha or 11:00-12:15pm for Yin.
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