A student came into class today at the tail end of a “bear of a week.” Things had been crazy since last week’s vacation, she was struggling to put together what was supposed to have been easily assembled furniture, and to top it all off, when she got to yoga class she realized she had grabbed two tops instead of a top and a bottom.
Luckily, I had just transferred a ton of yoga clothes into my trunk so I was able to outfit her with a pair of cute shorts.
Anyway, as we were talking about her frustrating struggle with the piece of furniture, she made the comment that “At least age has taught me when I need to stop.” She knew it was time to put the project aside and go take her yoga class.
Not just age, but experience, and actually learning from the two, has a profound effect on our self-care.
When practicing yoga, it takes experience and time and patience to know when to stop in a posture. It isn’t always about pushing and pushing and going further and always searching for intensity, sometimes it’s about just being in stillness and letting the posture come to you. After years and years of practice I am still learning these spots in my body. No one can show them to me, I have to discover them for myself. You can push up to a certain point to receive benefit from the posture, but then you have to know when to ease off to go deeper. Postures are infinite, they do not have a finish line.
The same thing goes for life in general. Especially when we’re younger (whatever that means) we have a tendency to gogogogogogo until we crash and burn ourselves out or become exhausted. We don’t know when it’s time to stop. We don’t know the limit to our patience, or our energy, or our tolerance for irritation. We are all good, and then we’re really not. Age and experience (and again, learning from these things) start to teach us about ourselves. How much we can take on before we need to say “no more.” How much we are willing to push ourselves, how much stress we can handle, when we need to just STOP.
It’s not always a noble thing to keep going. It is a wise person that knows when enough is enough.
I asked the student during class if she was feeling any better and she gave a big smile and said YES! She left feeling so much clearer and so much happier than if she had just kept doggedly pushing at a project that was not reaching a logical conclusion. I can almost bet when she got home, the furniture magically became easier to assemble.
Don’t be afraid to respect your own limits, whatever they may be. People always want us to do more, to be more, to push further, to be superhuman. And it’s ok when we can’t be. It’s better when we can’t be. Sometimes finding the place where we stop, is actually just discovering a new place to start.