Tag Archives: exercise addiction

Can You Do Too Much Yoga? Response to a Student Question

I look forward to answering your questions in this blog. Please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail your questions to tracy@wholelifeyoga.com.

A Whole Life Yoga student asks: Is there such a thing as too much yoga? I have spent most of the past few years doing yoga two to three times a week. Now, I’m at about seven. I feel like I’ve been more tired than I should be. This past week, I tweaked my shoulder. My overriding thought is that I’m doing too much yoga – that I increased the frequency too quickly rather than building up slowly. What are your thoughts?

You’ve asked a great question, and I’m going to answer it with some generalities and even more questions. Appropriate yoga can be practiced every day safely. Inappropriate yoga done once a week or even once a month can be unsafe.  Only you can figure out the answer for your situation.

Here are some things to consider.

  • Is your practice serving your body or injuring it?  The goal in yoga should never be to achieve a certain pose or increase the level of physical challenge.  The goal should be to meet your body where it is–in that moment–and to use yoga to bring your body, mind, and heart into a place of greater balance. If you find yourself competing, even with yourself, re-evaluate.  Consider interspersing stronger yoga days at the studio with gentler home practices focused on mindfulness and breath. Also consider taking your practice back a notch or shortening the length of your home practices.
  • How does your yoga practice balance the rest of your life? Since I know you, I can honestly say that you have a tendency to take on a lot.  Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating in a way that fuels your body? Are you taking time to do practices that fill your energy well?  The exhaustion you feel may have little to do with your yoga practice, and a lot to do with imbalance in your everyday life. Take a good look at your practice. It should balance the stressors in your life, not add to them. If the rest of your life is “strong” make your practice gentle, and vice versa. Dr. David Frawley has a book, Yoga for Your Type, that shows how to use yoga to balance your Ayurvedic doshas. It might be a good place to start.
  • Is your yoga practice an anchor or an addiction? When I was in my twenties, I had an exercise addiction. The need to exercise strongly, every day, was all-consuming. I planned vacations around it, chose not to socialize with friends because of it, and felt great anxiety when I couldn’t do it. The same can be true for your asana practice. Stop practicing for a few days and see how you feel. It’s perfectly fine to miss your practice, but you shouldn’t feel significant guilt or anxiety.  Remember, your practice should serve your life, not replace it. If your practice is becoming an addiction, then pull off the Band-aid and stop practicing.  In several weeks, start again, but not daily. Find a way to let your practice serve, rather than enslave you.

I suspect that once you reflect on those questions, you’ll have your answer.  If not, e-mail me again with what you’ve learned, and I can be of more help.

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere!