Last night, a student of mine approached me before class to inform me that his shoulder was bothering him and he might not want to participate.
I’m a fan of trying things out, even if you’re not sure if you’re up to them. I often encourage students to try class out for 5 minutes and then make a judgment call. Especially if you’re hemming and hawing on the couch at home. It’s worth it to come in and see if just defeating the inertia of your couch is enough to help you feel better.
Be in tune with your body and dip your toe in, in a safe manner. If the 5 minutes of class give you a strong feeling that you shouldn’t continue, head home or just watch.
When you choose to continue when there is pain or challenge, I think it’s important to not be too North American about your attitude. We North Americans often subscribe to a “balls to the wall” type of mentality: “No pain, no gain!”, “Suck it up!”, “Pain is the feeling of weakness leaving the body!” Developing some mental and physical resilience is excellent, however, it should not be at the expense of sound intuition and connection with your body.
I gave my student this advice: “Eat like a European.” Instead of gorging yourself on life, eat to the first edge of satisfaction or even leave yourself a bit hungry. We don’t need to fill ourselves on every meal, or in this case, to practice our absolute hardest at every opportunity. Effective and attentive practice for a shorter space of time is often far better than a high quantity workout that leads to sloppy conditioning or injury.
I do recommend keeping your rhythm — that’s why I say come out anyway. Many small meals are often better for you than a small number of big ones.
My student looked after himself well, did a smaller number of repetitions, paid attention to his shoulder, and had a satisfying and effective class. He informed me he was already a wise eater.