You may have heard the saying that before you speak, ask yourself: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? I've always felt this is a great guideline that helps me practice compassionate communication in line with the yogic principle of ahimsa, or non-harming. It's a great way to keep myself in check when I want to express myself, and it's also something I come back to when I notice my thoughts taking a turn for the negative. (Practicing ahimsa toward myself is loads more challenging than practicing it toward others.)
I have a list that keeps me in check when I'm on the yoga mat, too. Before I take a deeper variation of a pose, I ask myself the following questions:
1. Is it safe? Is there a greater possibility of causing harm to myself by going deeper in the pose?
2. Is there more room in my body? Does going into a deeper expression of the pose make my body feel better?
3. Can I keep a smooth, deep, and easy breath pattern if I go deeper?
4. Will going deeper compromise the integrity of the pose? Will it compromise my personal integrity? Would I be able to tell if it did?
5. Am I doing it for the right reasons? Will taking a different expression of the pose help me understand something about myself? Or am I doing it to impress someone or feed my ego?