Yoga Mat Wisdom and knowing when to stop pushing

I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for 4 years now. It is my self-care, my health care, my mental health salve. It’s how I find my stillness, my center, my strength, my compassion. It has become one of the best ways I know to take care of my whole self.

A few weeks ago, something happened.  Feeling tired but committed, I found myself in Warrior I Pose (here’s an image for those that don’t know it) and my legs began to shake. A lot.P I N this to pinterest

I was trying to “tough love” myself through it and force myself to remain in the pose, no matter what. 

I became destabilized. The pushing through and not respecting my body’s fatigue resulted in an improper position, wobbling around until I had no choice but to come out of the pose.

And then it hit me.

How often do we push through, only to ultimately become destabilized?Through life, responsibilities, relationships? How often do we try to ignore the signs of own fatigue because we think we “should keep going”?

We say yes to baking Valentine’s Day cupcakes for our kid’s class, only to find ourselves frustrated, resentful and exhausted while making them. We take on another project at work, because no one else said yes and we felt guilty. We ignore our need for a day off, because we convince ourselves that we’re not really that tired (because somewhere inside us we think that taking a day off would feel like defeat or failure).

I know that yoga is not about pushing through at all costs. To the contrary, it’s about listening to your body, being in tune with your needs on a given day, and then responding accordingly. But there’s a big difference between challenging yourself to go further (what I would call healthy pushing) and pushing yourself to get through (not so healthy). 

Healthy pushing feels good and satisfying, even though it can feel uncomfortable. Think about the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone. That’s healthy pushing.

Pushing yourself to get through feels icky, tiring, filled with resentment or anger or a deep sense of “NO”.

Let’s give ourselves permission to honor the messages our bodies send us and come out of the poses we hold too long, with grace and compassion. Maybe that means saying no to more things. Maybe it even means disappointing someone we love. (No one said this was easy….but it is worth it!)

Taking care of ourselves is our right. And if we don’t claim it for ourselves, no one else will. 

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