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All Shook Up

It's normal for your muscles to shake when you're just beginning yoga, but too much quivering may be a sign that you're overworking.

By Richard Rosen


Muscles are made up of many fibers. When a muscle is used, not all the fibers contract at the same time. Some rest while the others work, and then they trade places. When the muscles are really challenged, the changeovers can get a little ragged.

Beginning yogis often shake quite a lot. As muscles get stronger from regular practice, the fibers learn to trade off between firing and resting with smoother coordination. Eventually quivering often subsides (though there will always be teachers who turn students into yoga jelly, independent of their strength).

To calm the body, try to hug the quivering (contracting) muscle against its underlying bone and press the bone into the muscle being stretched.

Quivering is not necessarily bad, but it may be a sign that the body is overworked. Several years ago, when slugger Mark McGwire was mired in a terrible slump, a sportscaster asked Mac's hitting coach what the problem was. The coach opined that McGwire was trying too hard, and needed to "try easier."

Tune into the brain, the eyes, the root of the tongue, and, most of all, the breath. If any of these areas feel hard or constricted, take the coach's advice: Try easier.

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Reader Comments


When I began to use 3-5 lb weights my practice became much stronger and I never shake. The practice is called iron yoga.


This is a useful reminder and I love the idea of 'trying easier' - nicely and succinctly put. I've heard the idea of 'hugging muscles to the bone' before, however sadly this doesn't mean anything to me in practice! I don't know whether everyone else gets this and it's just one of the challenges of hypermobility, but if anyone has any ideas or suggestions how I can create this sensation in my body - let me know!
You'll have my certain gratitude.


Just like Lori... I am just starting to practice daily and this morning i was literally shaking like a leaf. Great info.

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