In Asana: Taking Your Muscles to Their Limit – Safely



When in an Asana and my breath is under no strain but the muscle seems to be burning up should I just hold it as along as I can maintain the even breath?

This seems to be more obvious in poses like the bridge for e.g.

Thanks for your advice.


—Cyril, Ireland


Hello Cyril,

Ananda Yoga practice is about raising awareness, and for that, working inwardly with the life-force is key. If a muscle is “burning,” you will be preoccupied with the physical (regardless of whether the breath is smooth). This will diminish your awareness of the life-force – and hence your ability to work with it. Consequently you will be less able to raise your awareness through the practice.

That is not to say that you should never take the muscles to their safe limits. Indeed, working the muscles will enhance their ability to support your bodily movements and positions – not just in asana practice, but throughout your life. You’ll be able to hold asanas longer, and thus make deeper inroads into the states of consciousness that each asana promotes. But if “going for the burn” is your regular focus, the benefits of the practice will be primarily physical, not spiritual.

So yes, give your muscles a test now and then, keeping the breath moving smoothly as you do so. But don’t mistake that for the deeper practice of Ananda Yoga. It is simply a conditioning exercise that can support your true practice. Make that true practice your regular practice.