Have you experienced any negative side effects to your yoga practice?
Eh? What? A downside to yoga? Vic, what are you talking about? Hang up your mat and get out of town! Immediately.
Before I lose all credibility, side note necessary. Yoga is AWESOME and is by far the best thing I chose to do with my life. From the wisdom and golden nuggets gleaned from others, to the turbulent path of postures ranging in difficulty (massively), for me the result has been one of deeper self-awareness, power and happiness.
However, it’s not all green meadows, faeries and inner peace. Like with everything (sadly) there are downsides too. If life were fair chocolate would be calorie-free and red wine would be a superfood (although I am pretty sure I read somewhere it was good for you?). This post is intended to be a playful tongue-in-cheek view of the negative consequences of a regular yoga practice.
I adore yoga and practise every single day (give or take the odd hangover). My practice is varied but I focus heavily on my core and building strength. I also love my Peloton bike and will do a session at least three times a week. My body and lifestyle have both changed quite dramatically and while I am happy with the transformation, there are some side effects that might not be so desirable:
Your body changes
We often hear how those who shed the pounds get the ultimate satisfaction when they go shopping for clothes in a smaller size. It makes all the dieting and exercise totally worth it.
Well my yoga routine has changed my body significantly and not in the way I expected. My boobs have shrunk (sob) and my arms are musclier, meaning I can no longer find anything with sleeves that fits. It’s either too small in the arm and fits everywhere else, or fits my arms and drowns me. My favourite sleeved dress is now the worst thing I own and kept for Hulk impressions only (at least Halloween is sorted).
Replacing all my bras was also rather costly. Thank goodness for Victoria Secret sales!
Now the reality of the situation is I LOVE my body which is something that has taken at least 25 years to say. No doubt that might change when the crow’s feet get deeper but for now I truly love the skin I am in. Whether that’s down to yoga or maturity I can’t be sure, but either way I’ve come a long way from the teen anorexic who hated everything they saw in the mirror.
What is different, is I FEEL great – which is the key to being happy about how you look I think. So what if it means I have to buy new clothes to accommodate my changing figure? It really is a small price to pay when on the inside I feel so awesome.
You sweat more
If you like Hot yoga, Vinyasa or anything that gets your heart rate going you will sweat pretty much every time you show up to class.
At my old studio in China, I was doing Hot Yoga every other day and if I didn’t bring my yoga towel, my mat was like a Slip N Slide.
In the summer I can often have 4 showers a day especially on my busy teaching days. I’ve had to invest in a more robust deodorant to keep up with the pace.
And let’s not forget the laundry. Oh my goodness the laundry. In order to stay clean and fresh for classes, my hallway looks like I moonlight as Widow Twankey!
And then there is the multiple trips to the bathroom. I now drink way more water than I used to and seem to shower all the time. I put my skin and hair through a lot, using way more products.
You live in activewear
My wardrobe is full of colourful prints, beautiful dresses and fabulous shoes….OH the shoes. However, the reality is I only ever seem to wear my yoga gear.
While my ironing pile is practically non-existent, I sometimes resent that my everyday wear is super casual.
Now don’t get me wrong – I LOVE my activewear, but like anything, yoga clothes can get boring, fast.
It can be more expensive
The more you get sucked into the world of yoga, the chances are the more cash you will spend.
When I started, I bought my workout gear from Decathlon including a £5 yoga mat which I was perfectly happy with.
The more I practised, the more expensive my stuff got. I just wanted better quality in my kit. Liforme and Manduka mats retail over £100 and are now my go-to. This may sound like a leap, but I feel I get what I pay for. I practise every day and need a mat with good grip as well as one that is hard-wearing but that means more cash.
I invest in pieces I love to wear and that make me feel good. I can’t risk the dreaded see-through yoga pant and I want to wear clothes that I like. Comfort is also really important which means decent quality fabrics which are more expensive.
Of course how much you spend is up to you, but this is definitely a rabbit hole I fell down.
Otherwise known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, after a tough workout the DOMS may say hi. Those of you that have ever done a tough workout have experienced this in one form or another.
DOMS is the pain and stiffness you feel after exercise, which can occur about 24-48 hours after your workout session. After high-intensity exercise we create micro-tears in our muscles which sounds scary but it means they can recover, adapt and become even stronger.
It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a top athlete, DOMS can affect anyone. Yoga often is calming and restorative, but you may have a power practice. If you focus on a particular skill, like inversions or arm balancing, then your practice is likely to be strong. Lots of core and drill exercises, cue DOMS.
I’ve grown to like the feeling of DOMS though. I’ve learnt how to ease the soreness and I like the feeling of knowing I worked hard the previous day. If I feel particularly sore, I like to do something more restorative like a yin practice and I always feel better for it.
But for some people DOMS is a really crap consequence after exercise. It really can make you question how fair life is when you work your ass off only to find yourself struggling to walk the next day.
You are more prone to injury
With a regular Vinyasa practice, there can be a higher chance of sustaining an injury.
If your alignment and self awareness isn’t there, repetitive movements (when done incorrectly) can cause damage to the body particularly postures that impact the wrists, shoulders or knees. Often we can ‘dump’ into postures due to the body’s need to take the path of least resistance. This can put more strain on our joints and muscles and then before you know it, injury.
Sometimes injuries can happen when we lack self awareness and think we are ready for a deeper version of a posture and push ourselves before our body is ready.
I injured myself quite badly a few years ago and it was all because I thought I could do something that my body wasn’t warmed up for. This small lapse in judgement cost me big. Thankfully I am back to normal but I see the same mistakes made everyday. People often push themselves further than they should without listening to what their body is telling them.
Learning this lesson from the start is helpful, because as we practise more and more we have to be extra careful. Rule of thumb – if a posture feels painful and you can’t maintain even breathing, modify or come out.
So there you have it – the dark side of yoga. It’s not all smiles and rainbows you know. But in truth, it is. I don’t really care if I have to take a few extra showers, spend a bit more cash or deal with the odd sore set of muscles now and again.
I love yoga and I’m unlikely to be put off anytime soon even if sometimes the consequences of a regular practice are undesirable.
Can you think of any other down sides to yoga? I’d love to hear your thoughts, until next time yogis!
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