Pain in Asanas

Please note that here we discuss pain that is caused by the load on healthy organs and areas of the body. Pain resulting from injury, disease, etc. is a completely separate and big topic, which is the subject of Yoga Therapy.

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

‘Right’ Pain

It is necessary to distinguish between two separate kinds of pain while doing asanas. The ‘right’ pain indicates to us what the weak and hard places of our body are, and this leads us through difficulties to attain power and flexibility. Usually, such pain occurs in the muscles and it grows as you move deeper into the asana and disappears when you reduce the load. This is a controlled discomfort.

  • listen carefully to the teacher’s instruction and follow the alignment in each asana.
  • move in and out slowly and smoothly.
  • painful sensations must be localised in muscles but not in ligaments, tendons, and joints.
  • be aware of your limits. Performing the asana, reach it and stop, do not go over this limit. Balance at your boundary and observe as the pain recedes.
  • breathe evenly and exhale into problem areas.
  • do not identify yourself with the pain. Let it pass away and be dissolved by breathing.
  • listen to your intuition, but do not forget that our clever mind can easily pretend to replace it.

A correct pain marks the boundaries of your comfort zone, and practice pushes them broader. The longer and more regularly you practice, the less pain and more pleasure you will experience.

Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch)
Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch)

‘Wrong’ Pain

Usually, this kind of pain occurs in the joints, ligaments, and tendons. Such pain is sudden and sharp; and it persists even after you exit the asana.
This means that your body is indicating that something is going wrong and is trying to protect you from injury. If you have felt the wrong pain, come out of the asana. But do not abandon it completely, try again. Perhaps you just didn’t align correctly. Use props since they are invented for this purpose.


Your knees require special attention – pain in the knees is never the ‘right’ kind of pain. In general, this is a weak point among many practitioners, as namely knees rank in first place among injuries in yoga. Basically, knees are injured during premature or improper attempts to sit in the Lotus Position (Padmasana) or variations thereof.

Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
Padmasana (Lotus Pose)


Many beginners like to say, ‘I am not flexible’. But yoga is not a sport. You have come to the hall not for extraordinary achievements, but in order to become better. Your inflexibility will help in this process. This is an instrument to measure your limits, determine the direction of force application, and monitor your progress. Excessive flexibility, which happens to athletes, dancers or just occurs naturally, of course, allows them to perform the most difficult postures easily. But these newcomers have almost always broken alignment in asanas and they require adjustment.

DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

A few words about pain experienced the day after class. Such a well-known sick-and-tired and even a little pleasant feeling is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It is caused by a microtrauma occurring in the muscles during exertion. The body responds to damage with pain, and starts recovery and muscle gain. This phenomenon is normal within reasonable limits, and it serves as a kind of indicator that you had a good workout. By the way, the theory that this pain is caused by lactic acid accumulating in the muscles is a myth, as it has been refuted by studies.

Finally, an interesting fact: the American Pain Society conducted a study in 2015, which revealed that yoga practitioners have a higher pain threshold due to having increased the grey matter of the brain.

You Might Also Like

  • Yoga for the Core: Why It’s Important & How To PracticeYoga for the Core: Why It’s Important & How To Practice The core can often be seen as this mysterious part of the body that is either toned by six-pack muscles or just weak. Oftentimes in yoga, teachers instruct students to “activate the core” without totally explaining how or what that means leaving students confused or desperately trying to suck in their bellies while holding their breath. The core can be somewhat complex, but it is absolutely imperative to a healthy and safe yoga practice and its strength can contribute to overall […]
  • Causes and Treatment of Muscle TremblingCauses and Treatment of Muscle Trembling First of all, we would like to clarify that we are speaking about ‘trembling’ as a result of physical exertion, which is different from muscle spasms or tremors as possible symptoms of some disease. Most often, body trembling during practice occurs when experiencing prolonged static loads, during which time you must hold the body in one position for a prolonged period. Contrary to popular belief, trembling is something that is well known to not only beginners. It is experienced even […]
  • SavasanaSavasana In the second sutra of his principal book, Patanjali defines yoga as “control of the modifications of the mind field”. It means that when we are on the mat, our goal is to stop the everlasting inner dialog, control the process of thinking and manage our own mind. This is what is most important; not being able to assume sophisticated postures. It is in Savasana when you start to understand that yoga is not just a set of stretching exercises, as it may seem at first. Making your body […]
  • Arthritis WorkoutArthritis Workout Arthritis is a painful condition characterized by swollen and inflamed joints. There are over one hundred types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis as we age. It is caused by “wear and tear” of the joints and is a degenerative joint disease. It involves the wearing away of cartilage, the covering on the ends of bones where they come together to form joints. If the cartilage is completely worn away, it can result in painful bone-on-bone contact, […]

All Topics