Pain In Yoga Practice

Let’s pay more attention to ourselves…

I felt inspired to write this article on yoga and pain because I am observing and receiving feedback from students with low energy and fatigue, reoccurring injuries popping up in the body and disturbances in the mind and emotions. It’s important to notice we are coming to a new moon, an observation that most yogi’s take into consideration as the earth is shadowing the moon from the reflection of light from the sun. During moon days, whether it be new or full, happenings within the body are changing and the bodily systems may need rest and healing. Those who have a regular practice or who are attune with what’s happening around them may notice that the new moon induces a heavy and calming effect. Recognizing and respecting the regularities of our environment allows us to live in greater harmony with our surroundings and unto ourselves.

Firstly, pain is not to be ignored in your yoga practice or daily life. Pain is one of the best story tellers and teachers of the emotional, physical and energetical stratums. Pain is a beckon expressing an organic statement. A vital source of information to the self for our body’s to function safely and effectively in our daily lives. More often than not, we are caught up in the doing actions to complete an end goal, and far less in the feeling state to witness and experience the journey. Western society is far more familiar to hiding and bearing a cloak over our true feelings and abilities to express and communicate. Most of us naturally fall into the demands of our complex and busy world, crouched over our cellphones entertaining one of the major issues of this day and age: our lack of attention to the here and now. Life is never normal for someone suffering from any kind of pain. In fact, over 100 million American’s alone suffer from chronic pain due to simply being unaware of their daily habit patterns and lack of attention to the present moment. Living in any form of suffering is difficult and bears heavy burdens. To blatantly say, one physical benefit of a yoga practice is the ability to naturally align and correct posture; more specifically the spine. If a yoga practice is done incorrectly and if the practitioner never evolves out of the doing phase, a host of misalignments will occur especially if the movements are repetitive only reinforcing further problems.

Your Guru, Your Teacher, Your Guide…

The role of a skillful healer is to entertain the patient while nature takes over… There are many different processes a practitioner may take to heal oneself. Some work on the outer layers to heal the body to work on the mind, and there are those who heal the mind, which in turn heals the body. “A true healer is a teacher which keep his students well instead of attempting to make them well after disease comes on; and still beyond this there will come a time when each will be his own physician” (Ralph Waldo Trine, In Tune with the Infinite, 1987). Health is a state of consistent rhythm where affliction is the inconsistent tone. Like a beautifully constructed orchestra, all the bodily systems need to sync and function together to create harmony and flow.  More often than not, the cause and cure of pain and disorder is within us, we are our own jungle physician. Almost all conditions of ill health in some way have been related to our patterns of thought. A pattern of thinking that is counterproductive in elevating to a higher state of health.

If there is pain in a pose, let’s shine a new thought in our minds and bring awareness to developing curiosity.  Pain is not something we should endure nor avoid, let it be your biggest teacher without letting it create more stories in your mind.  If we look at the bigger picture of pain, it’s part of our everyday lives whether it be a physical, emotional, or intellectual conflict.  If we develop techniques by understanding and developing a relationship to pain, we can begin to integrate it into our daily lives instead of having pain be a goad for continued struggle.

Pain In Practice…

If you feel strong pain in a pose, try shifting yourself within it.  By this I mean moving around it, backing up out of the pose, or going completely inside it to understand which movements will bring a deeper understanding of what is happening to cause such sensations.  By shifting your body and awareness, you begin to connect the dots and build new patterns of competence that allow you to move with ease and synchronization.  It’s very common for most of us to avoid pain because it creates a sense of fear, but it is often this void that sends us further difficulties within other postures and habits in our lives.  The more you play and experiment with ‘pain’, a greater understanding will come to the different qualities of pain.  Some pains certainly inflict more injuries and some are actually opening you.  Daily practice turns experience into knowledge, and knowledge into wisdom.  The more you practice, the more familiar you can make the distinction with more and more awareness.  The key that fits the hole here is time with skillful action of awareness.  Stay patient and trust your journey.  Pain in all genres will teach you all you need to know.  Accept softness rather than forcing hardness.  Bitterness will turn to sweetness. Explore, enjoy the process and allow yourself to be your most powerful healer.

Written by Quinn Taplin