If it hurts, Stop.

I do yoga. My yoga teachers are always quick to tell us that a stretch is a good thing, but pain is not. If you have pain, move back out of the yoga pose.

Me? I like to push myself. I want to be the best, the strongest, the most admirable. I want people to notice me and how well and fully I can do the poses!

And then I end up hurt, annoyed, injured and recuperating because I pushed past my limits and ignored my body’s messages to me.

What I’ve been learning recently while getting back into yoga is that I don’t have to push so hard to be strong. It’s actually much more intelligent to resist pushing and just do what still feels ok for me physically. I feel like this is a lesson applicable to all areas of life. Rather than go-go-go and hit burnout eventually, how about a slow-and-steady pace? Burnout is so unnecessary.

So recently I’ve been working on listening to what my body is telling me. I’m backing off when I feel pain and sitting down when I get dizzy. Not perfectly, of course, because it takes time to make a change in habits. Every time I am able to let myself off the hook for that pose I just can’t do, I see it as ‘returning to the path’ like in mindfulness meditation. It’s a moment of successful practice of being kind to myself.

I discreetly told my yoga teacher about what I’m doing, that I was in a car accident and I’m trying not to push myself too hard. When she asks if I can deepen the pose, I respond honestly “no, I can’t,” if that’s the case. As a result, I’ve done yoga more often lately.

I am hoping to encourage you to join me in this practice of paying attention, and backing off when you reach your limit. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. I’m the only one who knows what I need, and how to take care of me.

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