“Honor the suggestions of pain”
I struggle with how to explain to my students why they should modify a pose if they feel pain. There are always students who “push” themselves to complete the class in the most advanced way whether they need to or not. I have had students who do this everywhere I’ve taught, but notice even more of this “push it to the limits” outlook now that I am working with CrossFitters. I recently picked up my copy of “Anatomy of Hatha Yoga” to re-read it and found the perfect way to explain this in the first few pages. Here is the excerpt:
“Pushing yourself into a painful stretch will not only court injury, it will also create a state of fear and anxiety, and your nervous system will store those memories and thwart your efforts to recreate the posture. Pain is a gift; it tells us that some problem has developed.”
More simply put: if you move into an advanced pose when it causes pain, you can cause injury as well as inhibit yourself from reaching that pose in the future. This advice is not only helpful in yoga but in everything physical that we do (ahem, CrossFitters). Pushing ourselves to achieve great physical feats is a good thing but we have to learn to recognize signs in our bodies that we are pushing too far. The ability to recognize pain and honor what it is telling us is really valuable. So don’t be afraid to speak up in a class and ask for a modification if something doesn’t work for you!