How to Handle an Intense Yoga Class
Just like anything in life, sometimes yoga can feel overwhelming. Especially when you are about to do your 10th vinyasa in the first 15 minutes of your yoga class! But know that there are several easy strategies to implement if you ever feel like you just can’t do that next pose.
Try modifying the pose - if your arms are shaking during chaturanga, simply try lowering your knees. If your legs are shaking during a warrior I or lunge, try lowering one knee and coming into a low-lunge. If you’re not sure how to modify, quietly ask your teacher (they are there to guide you through your practice). As you build strength in your practice, you will need to modify less and less until you are ready for the full expression of each pose.
Drop down into balasana (child’s pose) - there is never any shame in skipping a pose. And your yoga teacher will probably be impressed that you had the wisdom to listen to your body rather than push yourself through a sloppy expression of the pose. While you are in balasana, try practicing the pose in your mind’s eye. This is a powerful mental technique that keeps your practice moving towards the next level!
Take an early savasana! - there is no shame in coming into savasana before your teacher guides you there. Every good class ends with savasana anyways! So if the physical practice is just too overwhelming, feel free to set yourself up for an extended savasana. Make sure you are extra comfortable, since you will be here longer than usual. And while in savasana, continue your mental practice by turning it into a deep meditation. Begin by focusing on your breath and use the breath as your anchor if you ever become distracted. The teacher’s voice can be a good test of how detached you are from the physical world around you. Once you can tune-out your teacher’s voice, then you know you are in a deeper meditation. But don’t let the thought of you meditating distract from your meditation! Know that you can always return to the breath.
So next time you are in an intense yoga class that seems a bit overwhelming, remember that it is your practice and you are free to modify, pause in balasana, or rest in savasana. These same strategies can be taken off of the mat (though you probably aren’t going to practice balasana in the middle of an intense conversation!) Instead, know that you are always free to take a break from that intense situation and come back to it with renewed energy. Or you can try modifying the situation - if you’re in an intense conversation, try changing the subject. The choice is yours and you always have the freedom to control your life, no matter how overwhelming it may seem in the moment.