Pushing our bodies actually widens the divide between our egos and our true, unified self.
Our bodies are constantly giving us signals about their status. Pain, tightness, soreness, energy and sluggishness are all signals from our bodies about how they are feeling and what they are capable of at any given moment. In yoga practice, we become acutely aware of these bodily signals, and we adjust our effort and intention accordingly.
Anytime our bodies say "back off," we should respect that and back off. If we ignore our bodies' cues, or worse, push past them, we are simply exerting ego/mind control over our bodies. Ignoring the bodies' signals does not promote the unity or cooperation of mind and body. It makes the body submissive to the mind and declares that the concerns of the body are not the concerns of the mind.
Strength and flexibility are not a function of will, but a function of cooperation, understanding and trust between the mind and body. To establish this trust, we must be gentle when our body gives us signals of pain or soreness. Our body will then reward us by unlocking some of its capability. When our body and mind become unified, the body begins to trust and feel comfortable with more vulnerability, like deeper opening.
If we force the body or try to open it through willfulness or power, it will resist us in order to protect itself. Why would our bodies open if we show them that we are willing to use force regardless the feedback? Or if we are careless and thoughtless with how we use them?
This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga