Why I love it when my muscles ache

Nearly 48 hours after my last class. I didn’t think I’d been working my body too hard. I kept very firmly within my (new) limits – ahimsa to the hamstring! I’m loving being able to practice sun salutations now, though I suspect they are the least graceful ever executed and must be excruciating to behold — but the point is to make them completely non-excruciating to practice. A lesson in humility and not letting my egocentric wishes to look awesome overtake the steadiness of my practice.

But even with modifications and adjustments and going slower than the rest of the class, my practice was still loads more intense than it has been for months. And boy do I feel it today! Everything aches. Seriously sore ribs, shoulders aching, and arms hurting to the point of me giving up on hair straighteners today. (Another lesson in humility — don’t worry about having mad hair for a day!). And my legs — oh yes they hurt most of all. Calves and hamstrings. But — so far so good — the injured hamstring tendon is still slumbering quietly.

And actually truth to tell I love it when my muscles ache like this. Am I weird or does anyone else feel like that? I always assume it’s my unique oddness — but maybe not! I have battled (I think that’s the most appropriate verb) with ME (aka Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) for many, many years. The ‘M’ standing for ‘myalgia’, or muscle pain. But that’s a totally different sensation — more like the deep, bone-heavy sensation you get with flu. It’s not helped by a little gentle stretching in the way that DOMS is, and it isn’t related to exercising, it’s just a symptom of the illness like feeling nauseous, having a headache, or vertigo. It just comes and goes as it will.

So the contrast between that unpleasant sensation and the more wholesome achiness of yoga just feels amazing to me. Mindfulness practice is teaching me about non-identification with physical discomfort, and how to be less fearful of pain, but now that it’s available to me I can’t help but form an attachment to the post-yoga aches. For me they’re something like my battle scars — I took part and I was triumphant! (Yes, I know — battle scars and ahimsa is a confused mix of concepts, but I can’t find the words tonight.)

And despite the fact that my body rather feels as though I’ve been beaten up, I certainly haven’t been. And any of my physical discomforts are negligible in the grander scheme of experiences. I found out this evening that a very dear friend of mine has been suffering domestic abuse. My heart goes out to her. She didn’t choose that experience, and her battle-scars offer less a sense of triumph than perhaps some bitter relief at survival.

Stay safe, my dear readers. x

2 thoughts on “Why I love it when my muscles ache

Add yours

  1. Your post ends on a very sombre note… But in regards to your question about sore muscles – I’ve always loved that feeling too! It’s not a soreness that indicates you’ve done something wrong, but rather that you’ve worked hard! And there is something gratifying about that – an after-taste of the workout.


  2. yeah, I sometimes have a hard time differentiating the various aches and messages my body gives me. I find it interesting that a relatively similar physical feeling can evoke such different reactions though. If I can classify it in my mind as a ‘friendly feeling’ that I’m experiencing for positive reasons I can tolerate it, and even enjoy it. But when my natural fearful reaction to pain/discomfort kicks in, it feels very hostile and less bearable, even if the pain level is similar. The mind-body connection is a mysterious thing!


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