You are not the sum total of your pain or injury. You are not your shoulder; you are not your knee, or just your hip or your neck. Even though when we have pain it does feel as though there is not a spot that is not without hurting.
Doing Yoga can be a very therapeutic practice and usually will relieve the muscle areas surrounding and protecting the injury. When those areas are released the injury is localized and healing is on the way.
However, if fixing the problem is the only reason for doing yoga it may become defeatist as it gives a person a limited spectrum in one’s experience of yoga. The many levels of benefits gifted to the student of yoga may be overlooked when someone is still looking for that quick fix to their problem. There is always that possibility and probability that one may relieve the discomfort in one’s body but if the pain returns or if it takes too long to heal, they often give it up and react by saying, “Yoga didn’t really help me.”
People with chronic (khronikos “of time,” from khronos “time) pain don’t realize that it took time to develop and it may take time to undo it. When the focus is on the discomfort, there is little insight into looking for the places of comfort, relief and the overall benefits that can be received and developed through consistent and patient practice.
When there is chronic pain usually there is some blockage that needs to clear up. When I was studying Shiatsu my teacher told a story of a client who had pain everywhere in her body. The only place she could touch was her earlobe. So she did. She gave Shiatsu to her earlobe until another spot was able to be touched. Soon, her body became less resistant and the pain subsided to allow for a more complete treatment.
I feel the same way about yoga. When I have an injury or a student does, I find what I can do that does not irritate the injury and I do that. From doing that posture I am able find the source of my problem. If I have a sore ankle, shoulder, or pain in my back, I focus on finding the asana that addresses the area of most pain and resistance. Without irritating that area, I can feel that it begins to bring healing to the injury. With any injury yoga is beneficial to move areas that are stuck directly related to the injury. Since energy moves throughout the body, when you begin to release tension in one area it will have a direct response to the injury that you are focused on.
As a teacher, and a long time student and practitioner of yoga, I consider the magic of yoga to work on the body’s own healing system. I rarely go to chiropractors since I am able to find what to do through yoga. It is a practice of self-awareness, which can educate and give the student a vast source of tools for finding wellness of both body and mind.