Big question…I have followed and successfully followed, mind you, the theory that one should not challenge one’s muscles to the extent that they begin the tremble uncontrollably while you try to moldstretchshape them into something for which they are not yet prepared. Then how does one progress in yoga, the question becomes obvious.
Slowly. So yes, one must have practiced yoga long enough in that coddle stage to REALLY want to progress to the next stage, and enough so that the nuances of your body are known to you. Each pose, held as you are today, should be a ‘meditative’ state, calm, easy, and NO grunting or groaning. NO grunting. No groaning. That meditative pose taken to the next step, means you may not be able to meditate in it, but you should at the very least be able to smile and talk with no real strain. Later, you should be able to meditate.
Even as you progress to the next stage, you should be able to do so with a challenge to your muscles, yes, that extra stretch, that extra bit of hold, one more push of the hips just a tiny bit higher into a nice tall bridge, but with that little bit of coddling that reminds us not to let that lactic acid run amuck in our bodies.
Working in harmony with our bodies prevents those tiny tears and rips that causes our muscles to experience trauma. The result of that being that then those muscles have to repair that trauma, and that would be quite a setback rather than that progression that we are hoping to achieve. So the answer in yoga, my friends, is coddle, and don’t coddle. We must find that balance between challenging ourselves, and pampering our bodies.
Practice, but feel each pose for its wonderful opening qualities, breath, enjoy it, really feel yourself from the inside out. Close your eyes and really feel that twist to your liver, that squeeze to your abdominal muscles, as they wring out, and massage your organs. That should be your focus, not so much your biceps and abs.