Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

Can You Do Too Much Yoga?

There is an article circulating about the detriments of doing “too much Yoga”.

Here is thing. The article is about asana. Yoga is a system. A method.

Water is good for you. However, if you just drink water, you will die. Your body is a system. The system needs a balance of nutrients to thrive.  Water is important but it is not enough to balance out the system.

Asana is important but it is not enough to balance out the system of Yoga.

There are 196 Sutras in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Asana is found in only 3 of those Sutras.  All the other stuff is important!!!!   If you just look at the portion of the Yoga Sutras that is on practice, 3 out of those 55 verses talk about asana.

If I give you 3 ingredients, sugar, baking powder and milk, is that a Chocolate cake? Would you eat it? If someone presented you with a Chocolate cake missing most of its ingredients, would you consider them a good baker?

If someone is  practicing 1/8 of the 8 limbs of Yoga, do they have a Yoga practice? We won’t accept that cake but we will accept this though. If we have a banging handstand, we will call ourselves good Yogis.

Can you do too much Yoga?

What is Yoga?

Patanjali says it is controlling the vritts or thought waves in the mind.  Mind control. Can you control your mind too much? Can you have too much clarity? Can you have too much peace? Can you have too much love? Can you know yourself too much?

What would that look like? Someone who knows themselves so well and sees through all the stories of their mind too much? Someone who sees your soul too much? Someone who embraces you with no judgement too much? Someone who lets you have your experience and loves you anyway too much?

Can there be an imbalance in the way that someone practices the method that leads to Yoga? Yes.  That imbalance comes because the checks and balances of Yoga,  also called the Yamas and Niyamas, are not being practiced.  The system is not being practiced. The method is not balanced.

For instance, someone is doing too much asana. What Yamas are they violating?

Ahimsa-non violence. Doing so many asanas that they are hurting themselves.

Aparigraha- greedy and hoarding poses. Doing too much.

Asteya-stealing. Those asanas are not for them, if they were, they would not be hurting.  They are stealing a practice that is not theirs.

Satya-truthfulness. They are not being honest with themselves regarding their boundaries and the type of practice their body needs.




Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.

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