What does it mean when everything aches during Ashtanga practice?

Winter is coming.

That may not be the most terrifying thing, given we’re in Los Angeles — and winter means lows in the 40s at worst — but still, this morning’s practice at home was a bit frio.

And, I’ll admit, everything ached. I think we can mark Nov. 11, 2012 as the Day. I. Got. Old.

My joints hurt. My already stiff body felt an added degree of stiffness. There was resistance everywhere.

Is this why, I wondered at one point, the senior Western teachers talk so much about Ashtanga and aging? I suspect so.

I felt old. I felt creaky.

So far, I’m taking this self-imposed news fairly well. I went surfing, again. (My run of sneaky good surf ended, though. All good things come to end.) We got things done during a busy, but productive weekend.

But it is hard not to contemplate just how different the whole practice felt this morning. The ache and resistance were deeper, if that makes sense. Or, perhaps another way to put it: It felt like a whole layer of stickiness had been slathered over me.

I felt like how people always talk about it. And, you know, some cliches are cliches because they’re true.

It could be a simple one-time thing, I suppose. But even so, it is hard not to think it is a sign of things to come.

Winter is coming, in the literal and figurative sense.

It’s something else to toss into the mix. Another part of the path or journey. A new fork in that road. A challenge, an obstacle, a lesson.

Strangely, though, to a certain extent there’s a weird exhilaration. If I’m right in my reaction, it suggests I’m aware enough to notice this difference, to feel a morning’s change. And that’s a sign that the yoga is working. (Maybe, anyway. I’m not quite willing to be that optimistic or delusional.) Perhaps this awareness will help illuminate other changes.

First things first, though. Perhaps a nice space heater will prove a temporary fountain of youth.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

11 thoughts on “What does it mean when everything aches during Ashtanga practice?”

  1. Hi, Steve~
    I have noticed a distinct difference in how my body feels these last few days during my morning practice. I have added several minutes of jumping jacks & running around the room before i settle into my Yoga. A space heater is a great idea. I felt very blessed to be able to surf in fairly warm waters until this week!
    I am very thankful that Yoga keeps me in touch with the changes without & within!

  2. Ahhhh… winter. One of the reasons I’ve vacated Canada for 6 weeks every Dec – January for the past 6 years, finding my way to the other side of the world, close to the equator:)

    A space heater will help, with a bucket of warm water in the room as the artificial heat will dry you out and have the opposite affect. This is a time of year when we tend to dehydrate ourselves because we’re not out in the sun or heat, but we still lose fluid. Dehydration has a great effect on our fascial network — the “stickiness” your talking about — and not just water. Be sure to keep your electrolytes up. I find days like this come and go more frequently as I get older; all a part of the process. I use “stiff” days to really focus on proper vinyasa, however tempting it may be to add in extra breaths and wiggle around more, for me the flow works better to keep my internal heat up (provided I”m hydrated).

  3. On a cheerful note — This will most likely only get worse with time. I’ve found as I’ve gotten older, my sensitivity to temperature has only increased. Others in my age frame have reported the same. Now, in my 60s, I like a mysore room in the high 80s. Increased cold sensitivity and associated joint aches/stiffness is a common phenomenon associated with aging. Hence the reason so many older folks wind up in warmer climates.

  4. hi friends… it’s amazing to read this article today as i’m up against some stiffness and soreness as well… as i brought presence to the matter i could see that the collective ego… the clamouring of mental noise and commentary on the subject, would certainly have me remain tight and say, “it’s age”. The knee jerk reaction is to see it as an expression of deterioration… but as i remained open to it, i really have to see that it’s the beginning of a really healthy, good thing…. what’s happening is that the delusions of my ego driven youth and their respective body habits (today how i walk) are crumbling away revealing the raw truth underneath… unfortunately, it is a little bit like darth vader after his mask came off… it’s atrophied and confused…. pain is there, but the pain that is emerging is what’s been getting created by and hidden underneath these erroneous ways of being….i will continue to practice and can only see that vitality will return to these confused areas…. om.

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