In yoga sutra, one of the very first yamas we learnt was ahimsa.
a·him·sa: nonviolence towards oneself and all living creatures; an attitude of universal benevolence; the spontaneous expression of the highest form of love; the complete absence of violence from mind, body and spirit (Adapted from Yoga with Adriene)
Ahimsa extends beyond the concept of what we do unto others to what we do to ourselves. It redefines the fine line between pushing our limits and knowing when to stop pushing ourselves. As a fitness junkie (as much as this term makes me cringe, I do identify with it), I have, countless a time, pushed myself to work out hungover, sleep-deprived, sick, or injured. Having spent 12 years in dance training, a year and a half in functional training, and 3 years practicing yoga, I’m no stranger to injuries. My dance background has provided me with good knowledge on correct postures and how to prevent injuries but injuries remain inevitable. The belief that training when you’re tired makes you a better (read:stronger) athlete and that age-old adage “what doesn’t kill you make you stronger” have been ingrained in me. As much as I hate to admit it, they are, more often than not, himsa – committing violence to my own body.
Of course, there’s a need to distinguish between training when fatigued and training to fatigue. There is scientific evidence to support that training when fatigued can make one a better athlete through maintenance of strength and postural control.
No one could have said it better than B.K.S. Iyengar – “the pose begins when you want to leave it.”
But when does one cross the line? No one would know this better than ourselves and the onus is on us to treat our bodies with love. It has been, is, and will always be a continuous journey of learning about our body, our potential, and our limits.