June 19, 2012

The Painful Truth About Yoga. ~ Emily Perry

Courtesy of flickr/swan-t

“I didn’t think it was going to be so hard.”

That is one of the responses I get from my first-time yoga students and this was my first thought when I began to practice yoga.

When I was a child, I fell and skidded across the pavement on my hands and knees. I came up with tiny bits of gravel embedded beneath my skin. My mother told me I needed to scrub out the gravel so that my tender skin could heal without infection or irritation. I delicately washed the area with soap and water and then armed myself with peroxide and a clean toothbrush.

I took a deep breath and proceeded to scrub. The pain was excruciating.

I turned as white as a ghost and thought for a moment I was going to be sick as waves of nausea washed over me. My effort had only released the surface particles of gravel. I would have to wait until my skin began to heal and regenerate before I could reach the bits that got buried deep beneath the surface.

Yoga is kind of like that.

Opening up the body and entering the heart isn’t easy.

It can be shocking, revealing and painful, but it is the best kind of suffering one can hope for. It doesn’t just cover up old wounds; it actually releases the cause of them so that we can heal and regenerate new growth.

Often times, the most difficult part of staying with an introspective practice, whether it is meditation, yoga or a practice of awareness, is when we start to see the things that we have been trying to avoid.

Our natural tendencies tell us to step away from discomfort. The healing process asks us to step into it.

Many of us walk into this practice unknowingly. We’re drawn to it for different reasons.

When I began, I wasn’t searching for anything more meaningful than a hamstring stretch and I certainly didn’t walk into my first yoga class with the knowledge that it might begin a process of digging up the deepest parts of myself.

If I had known that, I probably would have walked away.

I’m so glad I didn’t.

The little glimpses of awakening were painful to me at first. Physically, the practice was a challenge as I struggled with flexibility and alignment but even more painful was beginning to see my behavior clearly. Really seeing my interactions with others and the way that I was treating myself was a bit of a shock.

At first, each ‘unveiling of truth’ induced a wave of nausea, as I realized I had been blaming, allowing or avoiding certain aspects of myself and my relationships.

Over time, the process has become easier. There are still so many revelations of understanding, but I’ve learned to appreciate them. I watch very closely for them now and feel a huge sense of relief as each is brought up to the surface and released.

I don’t express to my students at the beginning of their first class that this practice might cause severe discomfort followed by some radical healing…but occasionally I’ll mention that you might fall and you might get hurt but you’ll get up and you will heal.


I am a devoted mama, wife, yogi, teacher and writer. I’m inspired by love, heartbreak, nature, music, movement and words. You can read more at www.emilyparkinsonperry.com  and you can connect with me on facebook or twitter.




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Editor: Bryonie Wise

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