Whispers & Screams

“When you listen to your body whisper, you don’t have to hear it scream.”  Author Unknown

As a yoga instructor I often encourage students to listen to their bodies and it’s for this very reason.  When we listen to and honor the subtleties, physical sensations, the breath, the quiet voice within, emotions and intuition (innate intelligence deep within us all), we can prevent our body’s “screams” and the risk of injury in our practice.  Learning from past experience is also helpful.  For example, when we eat a food that upsets our digestion, energy level, ability to sleep or focus it’s probably best to avoid those foods.  When we practice a yoga pose that causes pain (not discomfort that we can breath and relax through, but PAIN) then it may be best to practice a variation and return to that pose gently when the body is ready to receive it.  I have come to learn that working with the whole being of a person, is far more effective then dealing with it’s parts as separate from the whole.  We are connected through the breath, through a web of connective tissues, fluid blood flow, muscles, bones, nerves and skin.  Allow your body to speak to you and speak back with kind actions and words.  Wish your body well.  Feed your body nourishing foods.  Drink water.  If you feel pain discover why, seek out help if need be.  Let your inner voice and intelligence guide you, when you do your body will scream less and your joy and well being will increase.  Then it will be possible for every area of your life to improve.

Remember life is a journey, self discovery takes a lifetime.  Sometimes we learn first by doing what is wrong.  When listening to the body, and whole being, it is not black and white, there are all shades of gray.  We hone our listening over time and it gets easier with practice.

Honor each others path and journey, we are unique and made different for a reason.  Let’s learn from one another, even if it’s what not to do.  Love yourself, love your neighbor.  To truly listen it takes deep concentration and a willingness to be present, to yourself and others.  What a gift!

35 Comments

  1. Abbie Hammad

    I agree with this. Sometimes in class, there is a pose that is not my favorite, but i always try to force myself to do it because everyone is doing the pose. But just one day my body told me no. you are not doing this right so do not do it! I listen to my body!

  2. Jenna Cook

    my favorite part of yoga is final relaxation. Being able to stop and just think of nothing and breathe, and focus on my breath is one the most relaxing feelings i have ever felt. i really enjoy yoga, and the practice of it as well, but the fact that i can just tune out the world and listen to what my body wants, and needs.. is amazing.

  3. Alyssa T.

    I have practiced yoga before in the privacy of my home but this is my first time actually attending a class…and until now, I haven’t realized how much I never really listened to my body. I have a background in dance so I am flexible and I am used to pushing myself, so when I practiced yoga at home along with the television or my yoga dvd’s, I would push myself in the same fashion that I would when dancing. And as far as breathing…=/. I would breath, of course, but it was not the natural motion of breathing that we are taught to practice in class. I would move my body into poses forcefully instead of letting my breath move me. Certain sensations (especially ones in my knees and back) I would ignore and just push through the pain instead of breath through it or simply back off. Now however, I listen to my body in any and every type of exercise that I practice. I have also learned to control by breathing much better than before in order to provide me with the energy I need to make it through my workout. listening to your body is beneficial in more ways than one..believe me, I’ve learned the hard way.

  4. Terese McSpadden

    Our body so amazing and perfect. We ask so much of it. So to honor it through yoga practice is giving back. To pause and listen to our bodies through meditation, relaxation and our breath makes us really capable to make a connection in so many ways. Yoga has given me the perfect balance of mind, body and spirit. It has allowed me to bring this balance to the outside world and to pause and think more about my actions and decisions. I love yoga and the insight it has given me.

  5. Taylor Preston

    I agree. I think learning how to listen to your body is so important.

  6. Kimberlie Padilla

    I have lower back problems and when I first started your class, I experienced pain while simply lying in the corpse pose. Like you said to do, I tried another variation (kept my knees bent), honored my body and what the pain was trying to tell me. Now after being in your yoga class a few months, I can proudly say that I can do the corpse pose without any pain whatsoever!! It did not take long for my body to adjust and accept the pose either. The pain and stiffness does not interfere or limit me as much as it did before. This surprised me as horrible back pain has been part of EVERYDAY life for the last few years now. Your class has truly helped me to be more patient and appreciate my body more, listen to the gentle whispers. Thank you!

  7. Erika Yencho

    Being involved in a very physically demanding sport for 9 years and being injured, I soon realized the importance of listening to your body. Athletes in general will push their bodies to the limit, sometimes for themselves and other times from pressure coming from people around them. Though no longer in sports, I still tend to try to push my body to the limit but I have learned that your body “screams” for a reason and its okay to listen to it, After all, it is screaming for a reason.

  8. Rockie Jo Hill

    My favorite pose is simple supine twist. Every time i do this pose, especially in the mornings, I fill great inside and more awake. Yoga is the one thing I look forward to doing each week. I wish i had the time to practice more. 2 times a week is just not enough for me. Whenever we practice a new pose I always try to do it no matter how difficult it may look. But I always listen to my body while doing so. If it is screaming at me to let go then I do. Trying to perfect one pose is not worth injuring your entire body.

  9. Sarah Rogers

    Yoga has always been on my top ten things I want to do. I joined the class with a friend not really thinking I would benefit the way that I have. I did not realize there were poses that I could do or that my body could do that would make me feel so good. Poses that would take away pains I have had in my body for years. I know either do poses I have learned in class or look certain poses up when a certain part of my body is hurting. I actually came to class one day with a mild sore throat, and my body was trying to recover from serious allergy symptoms. I went through class doing each pose as well as I could and left that morning feeling refreshed and with out any more body pains. I am a firm believer in listening to your body and giving your body what it needs when it is asking for it. To take time and truly listen to the pains and aches and figure out what I need to heal long-term and not just what I need at the moment. I will continue to practice yoga as it is truly helpful to my mind, body and spirit.

  10. Mallerie Muston

    I love this article because I often form bad habits of pushing my body more physically in ways it can’t handle. In yoga classes I can sometimes feel a sense of embarrassment of not being able to go as deep into postures as those around me. I know I will get there eventually and it just takes time.

  11. Morgan Plash

    Yoga has allowed me the time and stillness to hear certain things in my body. One day after coming out of eagle pose (arms only) I was amazed by the release of tension that I felt in between my shoulder blades. Having the time to stretch and hear my body tell me it was grateful for that movement almost brought me to tears. Now, I will always be drawn to that pose and I hope to find more tension areas in my body through the stillness yoga allows me to have.

  12. Michelle Romanczukiewicz

    Taking yoga this semester has definitely taught me a lot about myself and my body. I used to put pressure on myself to push harder in class because I did not want to be the one person who gets out of the pose early or the one that could not do it to begin with. I tried every pose, even the ones I knew I would not get too deep in. But I am glad I pushed my limits in a good way. I also pushed myself even when I did feel pain, though when it was too much I eased out and did an alternate version altogether. I know I will reach my goals eventually in terms of increasing flexibility, but it takes practice and patience. And of course, listening to your body!

  13. Ava Karimi

    Before taking this class , I thought that every exercise needs the first days of soreness , and that was how I could figure out that I worked hard enough. But then by getting familiar to the concept of “listening to your body ” , I realized that I do not need to go over my limit , and sense the uncomfortness to get the real exercise . I should know my body limits , and enjoy the exercise based on my own pace and strength rather than pushing myself to do what I really cannot do !!

  14. Terry Penh

    I really like the quote because it applies to my situation now right exactly. I didn’t listen to my what my body was trying to say and ignored little aches and pains, and eventually the whispers turned into screams. Unfortunately I was already wearing down my body and then an unforeseeable incident pushed me over. Had my body been stronger or not worn down over time, I might have been able to prevent or at least mitigate my last injury. It’s easy to look back at what you should have done. But I need to remember that it’s to late to go back and I need to just work on how I do things moving forward.

  15. Jacey

    After taking your class I have realize how much I did not listen to my body. I would always go work out with my best friend who is a D1 athlete and I would push so hard just to keep up with her, and my body would definitely scream. After hearing you say many times in class to listen to our body, I have finally learned that my body doesn’t have to scream in pain to see results. I haven’t done any major pain to my body during class but have noticed I have become a lot more toned.

  16. Nicole Montano

    When I started taking yoga, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to distinguish between “discomfort” and “pain.” It took a couple classes for me to learn my body and my own limits in regards to yoga, and reading this gives me comfort that I learned it properly. I really appreciate your reminder that “self-discovery takes a lifetime,” because our bodies change so what may be true for one day may not be true the next. I’ve always considered myself to be a quick learner – if I get something right the first time that must be canon so good luck changing my mind! But when I do struggle it becomes very easy for me to get discouraged. In the past year I’ve found that patience and taking care in learning, whether it be academically or with my body, can be more rewarding than simply knowing intuitively, and again that things change.

  17. Irina Bobrenkova

    I like the article and find it very helpful. Sometimes people real have to stop for a second.
    When I first start practicing yoga, nobody ever commented that everyone is different and you can only do so much before you can heart yourself. Before I would not stop even if I feel pain and would go as far as I can.
    Taken a proper yoga class gave me understanding that I have to listen to my body and stay connected with it during entire practice. I, also, learn how to let go of the things sometimes and just focus on the moment. Now, if I feel that something is wrong I stop and think what I could done differently and what could cause pain.
    And for me it is always great to remind myself about drinking water.

  18. jennifer york

    for me, the best part of yoga is the warm-up and final relaxation. it is the one time that i can clear my mind and focus on my breath which allows me to free myself and feel refreshed.

  19. Ariel Bobo

    During your class, you instruct us to listen to our bodies to hear whether or not we are forcing it into a pose or posture or if we are just challenging ourselves. It’s easy to feel your body screaming, but if you pay attention to the movements, you will know when you’ve reached a your limit, rather than feeling only pain

  20. Jennifer Riggs

    I agree. Listening to your body is important, it will stop you from physically hurting yourself. If your mind is telling you no, don’t do it!

  21. Alice Heng

    I found that listening to my body is quite hard when everyone else is doing it. What I mean is sometime when there are poses that I don’t like, especially the one that work on my upper body, I tried so hard to work on it because all of peer pressure I guess. This peer pressure is more like I pressured myself to do it because everyone else is doing it, and I don’t want to be the odd ball that just lay there in Child Pose or sit there and watch everyone else. However, I totally agree with the article to just being me and mindful of my body that is trying to communicate with me. Last Wednesday, when we practiced the Wheel in class, and I couldn’t pop right up like some others, I paused and laughed in my stomach because my body finally made me listen! I couldn’t do that pose like others, so what? It is my body, so I must listen.

  22. Amanda Karry

    I completely agree that it is most important to listen to your body to avoid injury. I’ve learned this the hard was one class pushing my body too far and ignoring my body yelling at me to let off a little. Going forward I ease my body into trouble spots much slower that I would like and listen to my inner voice because I know ignoring it will only do me harm.

  23. Samantha Landry

    “Let your inner voice and intelligence guide you, when you do your body will scream less and your joy and well being will increase.”

    This quote just about sums up yoga for me. Before I started yoga, I always felt pain, and I would take it out on other things because I was feeling discomfort when I moved around. Since I’ve started taking your class, and listening to my body as you tell us to do everyday, I feel less stressed and less uncomfortable in my body. I know longer push myself too far, or try anything that will bring my discomfort (if it’s in my control). I feel like my well being has more than increased, and so has my overall mood. I wish that I would’ve learned to stop and listen to my body once in awhile so that I could’ve been more productive throughout certain times in my life.

  24. Sarah Gray

    This one small line has a very important meaning to me. I had to have a C-section with my second child and while giving me the epidural (the first time) they missed and ended up hitting a nerve. They had to eventually take it out and do it again and ever since that day, my lower back has not been the same. I have chronic back pain now and since starting to practice yoga that pain has diminished greatly. I not only feel better physically but emotionally as well. Being in pain can not only make your body hurt but it can make your mind hurt as well and I sometimes found myself taking that pain out on other people. Yoga has made me feel so much better!

  25. Ansley Pace

    I learned very early on in class to listen to my body when it is screaming. I chose not to during the triangle pose early in the semester and my hamstrings were quite upset with me the next day. I took it easy from then on when I noticed my body screaming.

  26. Corey Flanders

    When I first started stretching my legs with the strap, I wouldn’t be able to extend my leg completely straight. With practice, now I am able to stretch my leg out completely straight.

  27. Sean Drucker

    Along with yoga and taking time to notice what my body says subtly with poses, I’ve also been noticing how my body has been reacting to how I treat it as in how I’m eating, how stressed I am, and how much sleep I get. It’s shocking how strongly these things really effect you. I actually recently found out I have a gluten intolerance; had I noticed my body’s “whispers” and subtle reactions to certain foods before, I could have avoided the past few months of “screaming” my body has done to get me to notice it is something I am doing wrong to myself. Getting enough sleep, and drinking enough water (which I don’t do either well enough) also has such a heavy impact on your health. After depriving it of these two components, especially at the same time, can be devestating to your mental and physical health and is something that is so easily avoidable. It is definitely worth it to listen to the whispers of your body.

  28. Emberleigh Cecil

    Before taking your class, I had tried a couple of yoga classes. I never stuck with it because I was not seeing any benefits – the poses were painful, I could not connect with my breath, therefore, I was not listening to my body. Your class has taught me what listening to your body truly means and how beneficial practicing yoga is when you do it right. I think that this post really sums up what you want your students to take away from your class and I really feel that I have started a journey in yoga with your help.

  29. Mariam Mumtaz

    I never really understood what it meant to listen to your body until I started to practice yoga. I never really paid attention to the needs of my body or what it was saying. However, after taking this class I realized that it is actually very important to listen to your body and if there’s a pose that your body doesn’t seem to be painful, you should listen to that message.

  30. Lissa

    This really resonates with me because I’m definitely a person who needs to be “good” and it’s difficult for me to stop or pull back until I start hearing “screams”. Learning to listen for “whispers” these last weeks has been really good for me. I’m able to practice more with less residual soreness the next day, because I’m backing off before I cause too much strain.

    On the other hand, I’m already good at listening to some “whispers” I think most people miss. I decided on a whim once to track how much water I was drinking and learned after about a week of tracking that I naturally drank about 70 ounces a day, just from noticing when I was thirsty and getting a glass of water! I know too many people who don’t drink water at all and really don’t notice the sensation of “thirst” unless it’s “screaming” at them.

  31. Gilda Ramirez

    I have tried to force myself into certain positions thinking that it would speed my process of flexibility. I stopped doing that when the pain just became too much and beat the whole purpose of yoga. I also agree with the food section of this article, I once had to eat a full meal before class because I had work right after and found it difficult to get through the yoga session. My energy levels were too high that I found it difficult to relax and stay still for the poses including Corpse pose, which is my favorite.

  32. Macy Miller

    This was my first time doing yoga and I always thought that yoga would be easy but after hearing in class and reading this article about needing to listen to our bodies I completely agree.

  33. Shaene McAfee

    I like the quote, “Remember life is a journey, self discovery takes a lifetime.”

  34. Tiffany John

    Starting to listen to my body when I started taking yoga. Who knew that your body knows so much more!

  35. jordan kocher

    I often feel weak when I can’t complete a posture in Yoga and tend to ignore my bodies whispers and only listen when it screams. It can make class difficult or non relaxing sometimes.

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