If we imagine your body to be a living person, then when you feel ‘bad’ pain in any part of it during your practice what it’s telling you is “Ouch! That really hurt me. Please cut it out.” You would certainly take heed if it were a real person with a that complaint, so why not give the same credence to those important pain messages from yourself to yourself?
The problem is that psychologically speaking, we don’t always include ourselves in the discussion when we’re talking about ‘people’, as if what’s good and bad for everyone else doesn’t necessarily apply to us. But as Erich Fromm points out, “There is no concept of man in which I myself am not included. A doctrine which proclaims such an exclusion proves itself to be contradictory.”
When animals get injured, they use the wisdom of the natural world, they go find a quiet place where they can lick their wounds, allowing their bodies time to heal naturally on their own. How many unnecessary injuries occur in yoga simply because people keep pressing even when their bodies shout out to them in the clearest possible language that something is wrong?
We have to listen when our bodies tell us we are hurting them. If we want to become yoga masters, it doesn’t just mean constantly charging forward but also having the wisdom and forbearance to know when we need to tone it down or even take a break, in spite of the fact that we’d prefer to be in the studio practicing.