Should You Practice Through Pain In Yoga?

November 5, 2019

Transcript below of: Should you practice through pain in yoga?

Hey everybody! Welcome to another question of the month. Every month I answer a question here on video, as you already know. You can submit your own question by going to If it’s a good one, we’ll answer it here on video. This month’s question comes from Kai and it’s about whether you should ever practice through pain in yoga.

Learn a system for working with injuries

The Question:

Hi David, I have a question regarding practicing with pain. As you might know, in the Ashtanga method, we are encouraged to keep practicing with pain and “all is coming”. I just saw your hip labral tear video and you mention that calcium is sent to the body parts with inflammation [and can] cause some problems if inflammation [keeps] going. I have had continuous pain in [my] hip and other parts for months, but I kept practicing, worked through them, and it felt great afterward. What is your take on that?
Thanks so much for your generous sharing of anatomical knowledge.

The Answer:

Okay, so a couple of things are getting mixed together here. It’s a great question in general, you know, about practicing with pain. You know the simple version is, as you said, yes it’s okay to practice with pain in yoga, and the other side of it is you should never practice with any pain in yoga. What often gets lost today, especially with social media, and I’m not going to go on a rant, but it’s way more nuanced than that. It’s not like, if you have pain, you should one hundred percent stop, or if you have pain, you should one hundred percent keep going. It depends on the type of pain that it is.

And, everybody is already familiar with different types of pain. Is it general or is it specific? That’s the first place I start. If it’s general, we need to be careful and pay attention, but it’s less significant already. If it’s in a very specific spot and feels pointed and sharp, if those words get associated with it, just stop for a moment. Let’s reassess and see what’s going on. When it’s sort of more generalized and kind of comes and goes, you still want to pay attention to it. You still want to look into it. You want to figure out what’s going on, but it’s not like you must stop. So, breaking down that idea of practicing with pain, it’s more nuanced than yes or no, you do or don’t practice with pain.

The next thing you brought up is the labral tear video and the inflammation, the calcium. Just because you have pain doesn’t mean it’s inflammation. There’s muscle pain. There is joint pain, which could lead to inflammation or you could have inflammation on the tendinous ends of muscles. That’s all possible. It would have to be a significant amount of inflammation to get a buildup of calcium. Don’t assume that your problem was related to inflammation and calcium. It could have been, but don’t hold onto that too strongly.

So, in your case, probably what happened was, it was some change in muscular tension in both of your hips. Maybe there was some inflammation there, maybe not. And, you practiced through it. And it was one of those cases where you did your practice, and I don’t know about “all is coming”, but at least the pain went away. So, it’s totally possible. I’ve seen it many times. I’ve also seen people continue to practice and it got worse. So, don’t think that’s not a possibility. Remember the answer is always more nuanced than we want it to be.

So, I hope that helps a little bit. If you’ve got a question that you want me to answer, go to

Check out our online courses and workshops