To exert or not to exert? That is the question. Whether during a workout or yoga class, you have undoubtedly hit the wall of “should I be doing this?” The “this” can be a particular pose, exercise, or over-extension of either. A good guideline for making the determination is: If the complaint is coming from your mind wanting to be heard and take over you, then keep on keepin’ on and train yourself to master your mind and its chatter. However, if there is physical pain that you either feel developing, or aggravating an existing issue, then pull away or reduce the intensity of the workout.
The mind loves to wander, chatter, blame, remind us of our shortcomings, and take us away to more sexy and salacious thoughts. In many cases, this is done to distract us from the task at hand. So, why would your mind behave any differently during your yoga practice? There are several other things you could be doing instead of focusing on your personal wellness, but if you have taken the time away from those chores and errands then you either need the break, acknowledge how important this time is for you, or take part in these activities because they make you feel and look good. So, for now, there is nowhere else you need to devote your energy or attention and everything else can be handled later.
If the challenges are coming from physical discomfort and you feel tightness during your practice, gauge whether breathing into, or warming up, the area will help increase your flexibility. In instances where an angle or extension you are in require adjustment, make the necessary fixes. However, if there is pain, slow down the work and come out of the pose slowly in order to avoid any sudden strains or pulls and be proud that you caught yourself before you had any regrets after the fact.
A good rule of thumb is to apply to yourself the same advice you would give to a friend in this position. Your advice to them would probably run along the lines of a suggestion to push through the mind chatter, but stop at pain. Be just as understanding, supportive, and forgiving of your own challenges as you would be with those of a friend and give yourself a break.