As a yoga teacher, I watch people wreck their bodies every day. No matter how often I say, "its okay", "just breathe", "back off", "approach it this way", "focus on this", "let it go" & "take a break", people push and push and push until they break. The other 7 limbs are there to temper the actions that lead to our injuries & pain. With them, our yoga practice leads us to liberation & freedom from pain and suffering, Samadhi. Without them, we become entrenched even more fully onto the path of Dukha or suffering.
Injuries happen and no one can avoid suffering forever but we want to limit it. To do this in our yoga practice, we have to practice the 8 limbs. The most important of these for most modern practitioners are the yamas and niyamas.
When you find yourself pushing a pose or feeling pain in your practice, you should ask-
-Is This Harmful? Ahimsa/nonviolence
-Am I truly honoring my body and where it is today? -Satya/Truthfulness
-Is this pose really what I need or am I taking a pose that is right for someone else and trying to apply it to my body? Asteya-non stealing
-Am I guarding my energy so that my body and mind can be bright and free or am I blocking my energy and causing dullness and pain? Bramacharya/Abstinence
-Is this pose really essential for my freedom or practice at this moment? Aparigraha/Abstaining from greed
-Am I developing the impurities of ego-ism and attachment through this pose? Sauca/Cleanliness
-Am I accepting where my body is today? Santosha/Contentment
-Am I dedicated to the process or am I dedicated to the egos need to acquire this pose at all costs? Tapas/Austerity
-Is it possible that I can study this pose and my body and approach it differently? Svadyaya/Self Study
-Can I surrender and trust the process? Can I surrender to the state of my body today knowing that it is as it should be? Ishwara Pranidhana/ Surrender
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