zone 5 is where your heart is beating as quickly as you'd ever want it to, or possibly more quickly than that. it's where you're dripping sweat and struggling to keep breathing well, searching for every possible distraction to stop you from thinking about how much you want to just stop. you count things, you count how long you've been there or how much longer there is until it's over. you take a drink from your water bottle, you wipe your forehead, you stretch your back. you tell yourself you can do that again in fifteen seconds. you tell yourself you can make it until the end of the song, or until the next chorus. you play mind games, you convince yourself you're fine, you tell yourself anyone can do anything for two minutes, ninety seconds, one more minute.
it's a time of giving everything you think you have, a time of depletion.
and when you work in zone 5, you teach your body just how tough it is. you learn you're capable of more than you thought. you learn that when you work to depletion, then recover, you become stronger than you were before.
an oft-repeated tenet of a healthy yoga practice is control of your breath. slow, measured, thoughtful, deep. the breath is brought in, then it is fully released--pulling it from every cell of your being--before the next deep inhalation. you completely empty out before refilling. not exactly what takes place when you're in zone 5, though it's certainly a goal.
however, where you can find a meeting between zone 5 and yoga is in the cyclical nature of a zone 5 workout.
you work to capacity, then you recover.
you deplete, then refill.
and then there's life. there are times when you feel you've given your all, that there's nothing left. and then somehow--often miraculously--you are refilled and can move forward again. as sometimes you have to reach rock bottom before you can begin your ascent, there is something magical about emptying yourself completely before beginning to breathe again.