When training for a fitness goal, we can draw upon the practices and teachings of yoga to support ourselves. In yoga, we learn to listen to our bodies. We put ourselves in uncomfortable positions, and learn to breathe there, within that discomfort. It’s the same in running…to stretch, to grow, we do need to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones. If we didn’t, we probably wouldn’t ever leave the couch and we certainly wouldn’t achieve our fitness goals. But discomfort is not the same thing as pain. Pain is a message from the body – “too much!” So when we feel pain, it is our cue to stop, take a breath, and reassess. Sometimes the act of stopping and breathing is enough to ease the pain and then we can continue. But other times, a different approach is called for. Easing off, going at a slower pace, or trying a different exercise may be more appropriate.
At times like these, it can be useful to look at our health and wellness from a long-term perspective. In the short term, our minds (and egos) can momentarily freak out – that we aren’t doing enough, working hard enough and that we won’t reach our goals. But in the long term, developing a loving and honest relationship with ourselves and our bodies is a much more effective way of getting to where we want to be. If for today, we ease up, soften our approach, we may just have the energy and wellness to push a little harder tomorrow. Certainly our motivation to exercise our bodies, and the likelihood of training again, will be much higher if we are kind to ourselves.
So next time you’re out and over-doing it, take a breath and just stop for a moment. What is your body saying? The more we learn to listen, the more we can pick up on subtle cues sooner, are we can then really start to foster a real and long-term partnership with our bodies.