Do you ever find yourself in a yoga class trying to squeeze out every last drop of energy you have because you are craving that BIG release? This may seem like an exciting scenario and it sounds like a powerful thing to do. Unfortunately, this is the process of overloading in your yoga practice, and it happens frequently and, at times, is even encouraged. Pushing yourself to depletion is not the best way to care for your body when practicing yoga. There is a better way.
Finding an edge in your practice does not mean jumping off the cliff to affirm that you let something go. This common tendency might be a symptom of conditional behavior drawn toward the thrill of a movie-like drama where you are the lead player fiercely walking the line. Exhausting your energy creates the likelihood of making irrational decisions and moving your body in a less than optimal way. Students and teachers that overload in their practice may use this all-or-nothing method because they see it as the more beneficial route. Perhaps we all need to explore extremes to have a sense of where our edge is located. However, when you understand boundaries, it is imperative to your evolution as a yoga practitioner to honor yourself with a balanced approach. Contain more of your energy and you will operate with more mindfulness.
One of the best ways to challenge your practice without going over the top is to maintain a steady and rhythmic breath. Breathing powerfully and with consistency is much more difficult than it sounds. You can create a very robust sensation by connecting your movements with a breath that is long and fluid. An emphasis on breathing is a great way to test your mental and physical capacity without the feeling of deprivation at the end. Make sure to pause and reset your breath the next time you catch yourself getting out of control in your practice.
There is a time and place to let everything go, and that is called Savasana. Until you get there, avoid getting caught up in the hype and desire to pummel yourself into a fatigue submission. We are all capable of creating a healthy release without attaching to the rush of overloading.
Signs of Overloading:
Create long and even breaths
Allow your breath to facilitate your movements
Soften into tension instead of creating more resistance
Maintain a steady inhale to stay energized