Pain functions very differently depending on the person.  Some people are very intimidated by pain.  The minute they feel even just some discomfort, not even pain, they scare away from what they're doing and never want to do it again.  Another group can get almost addicted to pain.  They tend to push themselves past their limits, and if they're not really sore after a workout, then they're not sure they're pushing hard enough.  

What I've learned is there are many different types of pain...many different colors of pain on the pain spectrum.  Pain is a voice in your body's information system.  A stronger painful sensation will tell us "Stop!," while a different pain will tell us, "You can do more of that, but please go slowly."  If we've injured our neck for example and we want to turn our head to the right, either from pain or actual inability to move, our bodies won't allow us to turn our head.  Pain's voice might be saying something like, "I listened to you before and look what happened!  So try what you want, but I'm protecting myself.  Push any further, and I'll yell really loudly!"  

It's when we learn to connect and cooperate with our bodies and respect its innate intelligence that we can move slowly and sensitively within our practice by listening and responding to the body's feedback.  Yoga should never be "painful."  But throughout the practice, you'll be faced will challenges that your body has never tried, isn't used to, or has difficulty with.  If you ever feel sharp shooting pain, you should immediately stop what you're doing.  But discomfort may be a different story.  Because pain has many layers and colors, when you're in a challenging posture, see if you can tune into what the body is trying to tell you.  Does it say "Stop!," or does it say, "Okay, I'm okay with this for now," and see if you can breathe and almost coax those muscles into relaxing and letting go, eventually being able to move a little more into the posture.  

Like it was cheesely stated in G.I. Jane, "Pain is your friend.  It lets you know you're still alive."  We need pain because without it, it's very dangerous and makes us very vulnerable to injury.  Learning to have a more respectful relationship with pain, to make it your 'friend,' allows you to use it during your practice.  Pain announces and guards our edges and limits.  Learn to listen to what it's telling you.

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Reader Comments (1)

So, when is the next blog post going to come out?

June 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterC-dog

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