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Yoga FAQs: Is It Supposed to Hurt?


Many newcomers to the practice of yoga are uncomfortable at first. They are twisting their bodies into positions that they've never tried before, and it can definitely be awkward for a beginner. But many beginning yogis are surprised and alarmed to discover that, sometimes, yoga's more than just uncomfortable. It might actually hurt.

Is it supposed to hurt?

The answer is both "yes" and "no." Yes, doing yoga can be a little uncomfortable. Once again, you're doing things with your body that you haven't gotten used to, yet, so it's only natural that it should feel a little strange or even uncomfortable in the beginning. If you're not very flexible, the mere act of stretching before your yoga workout may cause you some discomfort. 

But this is the kind of discomfort that's an almost satisfying kind of pain. There's something about a deep stretch that feel really good, even though it kind of hurts. When you're holding a yoga position for a long time, you may feel your muscles burning and shaking as you determinedly hold your position. But it's a good kind of pain, and you learn to enjoy it because you know it's making you stronger.

So yoga can be painful in a good way. But there's also a bad kind of pain that you should be careful to avoid. You want to push yourself in your practice, but you also want to know your body's limits. Listen to your body: if it tells you that you need to stop, then stop. Pushing yourself past your limits can lead to injury. Yoga is not a competitive sport; the goal is not to hold a pose longer than the person to your right, or to stretch farther than the person to your left. It's about disciplining your mind and body, gaining control of yourself, and knowing yourself and your limits.

Patience is an important facet of yoga practice. You have to learn to be patient with your body as it slowly acclimates to the practice of yoga. With time, it'll get easier and easier to hold those difficult positions, and you'll experience less pain. It'll always be a challenge (if you're doing it right, that is), but you'll be able to do more and more as you continue to increase your practice.

So, there's such a thing as "good" pain in yoga. But even "good" pain can be difficult to bear. You can mitigate the pain with the right equipment. The Maji Mat is a good example of this. It provides padding in all of the right places in order to make it easier for you to achieve positions that can be hard on your hands and knees. Alleviating this minor pain can help you to get further along in your practice so that you can improve more quickly.

It's natural to experience some pain when you start exercising. But make sure that you can tell the difference between "good" and "bad" pain in order to prevent injury and to promote progress.

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