July 22, 2015

Why We Need Pain in Yoga.

Pain isn’t always a bad thing.

Hear me out.

I know that in most (if not all) of my yoga videos and posts have told you to back off from pain. I’ve told you to shield yourself from it, protect yourself and others, and to avoid it at all costs. I think as humans we all want to make it through this life unscathed. Sadly, that is sometimes impossible. And, after a lot of soul searching, I’m not sure it’s something we should really be trying to accomplish.

What is pain?

There are different levels of it. People have different tolerances to it. Some people willingly take it all themselves, so that their children or loved ones won’t have to.

Running from pain on the mat is like running from pain in life. We need it in order to grow. As a kid, it teaches us not to touch the stove burners, otherwise we’ll get burned. As teenagers, it teaches us that not all love is true. As adults, it teaches us that the things that are difficult to obtain are often the best things in life.

Struggle is what builds character.

Failure is what builds strength and resilience.

Pain not only shelters us from worse pain, but it can also lead to brilliant triumphs if we stay the course.

Important note: There is a major difference between pain that can lead to injury and pain that is simply discomfort.

I woke up at the crack of dawn and rolled out my yoga mat this morning. Did I really want to do that? On one hand, yes because I want to be a dedicated yogi with a solid practice, especially since I’m preparing for my teacher training in September where sleeping in isn’t exactly part of the curriculum. However, on the other hand, I really didn’t, because it was cold this morning and I would have much rather gone back to sleep so I could wake up again when the sun had warmed the earth a little bit.

But, I got on my mat.

I eased open my cold and stiff muscles.

I sweated out toxins and worked my body.

I dedicated myself to my practice, instead of sleeping away the most precious and influential hours of the day.

That practice was one step in the right direction for my spiritual growth.

It reminded me of back when I hated green juice. I know, I can’t believe there was a time when I hated it either, but it’s true. It made my stomach flip in an unpleasant way. It didn’t help that it smelled like grass, which practically made my lungs close up since I’m allergic to freshly cut lawns.

I drank green juice every morning for three months, when I was home from college one summer. I even got my mom to drink it every morning with me.

She went on to drink it every morning even after I went back to school.

Now I crave it. I love it. I love how it makes me feel.

The good things in life aren’t always going to feel great or look appetizing at first. It takes commitment, time and dedication. It takes a clear intention that you can revisit whenever you want to hit the snooze button on your alarm or skip the greens one morning because you’re going on a trip and could just grab a bagel and coffee on the road.

Showing up for yourself and your spiritual practice is no game. It’s no joke. It’s hard work.

Paraphrased, Sri K Pattabhi Jois used to say that “Ashtanga yoga is for all people. Old people, young people, fat people, skinny people, and even sick people can practice Ashtanga yoga. The only people who cannot practice are lazy people.” This quote, I think, works for all spiritual practices, whether that is meditation, yoga, reiki, and others.

Spiritual practices take work and discipline.

I practice primarily at home, without a classroom schedule or instructor to push me or urge me to show up.

When I show up, when I get on my mat, when I sit on my meditation pillow, when I hold ritual, when I eat healthy, it is all because I have dedicated time to myself and my spiritual well-being.

It is up to you to show up, even if that means waking up at the crack of dawn and rolling our your yoga mat when the air is still cold.

Push through the discomfort and you will be triumphant.

Just, don’t push yourself into injury. That’s never good.


The Most Common Yoga Injury & What to do About It.


Author: Stacy Porter

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Author’s Own

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