As much as I am a strong advocate for yoga and firmly believe that every person can benefit from practicing it, there are times when yoga is not your best option.
1. When you are super sick. When you are ill, what your body needs most is rest. If your sickness is fairly minor, like a mild cold, then yoga may be a great way to help you feel a bit better. But even then, you should be practicing restorative poses. If you have a long-term illness, like Crohn’s disease or cancer, meditation can be a wonderful way to help you work through all the shit running through your mind.
2. During menstruation. Okay, not really. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this issue however. Some believe you shouldn’t practice the asanas at all during your menses; some say it’s cool after the first three days; some say do what feels right in your body. I’m gonna go with the latter. Many women (like me) really feel like shit when they are menstruating; hard-core cramps, headaches, nausea, severe moodiness, the list goes on (right honey?!). For me, a gentle Yin or Restorative practice is what I need to help ground me and remind me how much I love my family and do not want to kill them J So, I naturally choose not to do inversions during my cycle, because they are intense and I do agree with the idea that it can mess with your flow, physically and emotionally.
3. If you are injured. Yoga can truly work miracles to help prevent injuries and to help you recover after an injury has occurred. But, if you just bent over to pick up one of your husband’s dirty socks (again) and put your back out, don’t be rushing to the mat to fix it. What you need is rest, and maybe medical advice. Give the injury time to heal on it’s own before slowly working your way back into your routine. Yogaglo.com has some great practices designed specifically for back injuries to help you ease back into it. *Be sure to speak to your doctor before starting any exercise regimen after an injury*
4. If you are loaded. So you totally just nailed that pose you’ve been working on for months. You’re sitting around havin’ some drinks with friends and you are eager to show off what you can do. Before you try to swing up into a handstand, DON’T DO IT YOU DUMBASS! Yoga is all about balance and having a clear mind, of which you have neither when you’ve swizzled back a couple of beers. Wait until you’re at your next yoga practice and show your instructor what you have accomplished (she’ll be super stoked for you, I’m sure).
What it really comes down to is listening to your body. Our culture has taught us we need to push ourselves to the limits. That’s bogus. If you are tired, rest. If it hurts, don’t do it. Your practice will not suffer because of it, but only grow stronger. Your body will tell you what it needs, if you can clear your mind long enough to hear it.