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Muscle confusion in yoga
Photography by alexis meyer

Muscle confusion in yoga

by Sylvie Binga sylvie binga
Practice Yoga | What is Yoga? | | Tips

Preventing your body from adapting

In fitness, we have used the term "muscle confusion" for many years. But you hardly ever hear of this term when it comes to designing a yoga practice.

In the world of fitness the term "muscle confusion" implies "a method of cross-training and periodization achieved through switching the order of exercises and incorporating new and varied movements." Muscle confusion prevents the body from adapting to exercises over time, resulting in continual improvement without plateaus.

In the same sense, our yoga practice requires muscle confusion. Not only for the physical body but for the mental and emotional as well. Otherwise, our yoga mat can become our own little box.

Practicing a series made of the exact same set of poses in the same order every time will naturally become less challenging physically, emotionally and mentally after a short period. Just like nature experiences, accepts and flows with the weather change, the season change, etc. so should our yoga practice. Change is good, change brings growth and excitement. Change keeps us alert, whether on or off the mat.

We have all caught ourselves at some point in time moving into what we think is the "next" pose to come, without listening to the teacher. The internal dialogue in our mind tends to take over and does not allow us to be in the present moment. This is the same internal dialogue that made "Mr. Duffy live a short distance from his body.” (James Joyce, Dubliners)

By adding "muscle confusion" to our hatha yoga practice we will also achieve a moving meditation practice. In fact we can bring this concept into every moment of our daily life. Take a different route to work, eat at a different restaurant, go for a walk at a different park, take a different style of yoga, practice with a different instructor, think outside your own yoga mat. This will "cross-train" our five senses and our five koshas. It will make us more flexible in our body and in our mind!

Deepak Chopra says: "In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty . . . in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe." So let us practice "muscle confusion" and take yet another small step towards the dance of the Universe while on or off our yoga mat.

See you knee deep in the water or on the hot mat! "Enjoy Life and Feed Your Rat!" - Ganesha