My teacher, at times, talks about “good pain and bad pain” and many of us don’t understand clearly his words.
Let me tell you a short story. I want to progress in my practice, I attend to classes that are a little more advanced for my level of practice and that is a good thing for me: it feeds the desire to learn.
A few years ago, I went to an advanced Ashtanga class, which I had never practice. Mid-class I was exhausted but I kept on going and going. At a certain point, there was an asana focused on the shoulders and I did it. It felt a little painful and I repeated the move. The third time, was the last one. My shoulder made a strange sound and it was the end of my class.
I didn’t know where or when to stop and it took 6 months to feel close to normal again: I created a tendonitis due to my lack of attention and competitiveness perhaps.
Now, when I am at the studio I a very aware of what I can do that day and where the pain is not healthy and I must stop. You will know up to what point you can push yourself, in a healthy manner, which is really important for the evolution and advance in your practice. Learn the messages from your body: discomfort or pain?, can I do it today? It is important to challenge yourself and try new asanas. It is important as well to keep your awareness and be present.
Don’t ever forget: it is “your practice” and you are in charge of your feelings, your body and your thoughts. Your body needs your full attention during yoga class and non-awareness is a pricy ticket to pay… or at least it was for me!