I was thinking about a question from a student who was struggling with a back injury and doing Yoga. She asked me if I thought whether doing yoga might be making her problem worse.
I have had many challenges in the last 15 years with my body; sometimes from doing a pose, but mostly just from life. Teachers have given me suggestions as to what they thought I should or shouldn’t do, but the best advise from one of my teachers was “Listen and trust yourself”
With that advice which made perfectly good sense to me, I continued to move forward.
After many years of practicing yoga, as of today, I have managed to find the answers to all of the physical challenges with which I have been faced.
Yoga is done for many reasons. When I think about yoga as a great exercise program, I know how it shapes my body. The strength, flexibility, and freedom I experience from doing Yoga is at times miraculous, but the primary force that moves me continuously into yoga is what it does for my mind and spirit.
Pain in the body has a quality, but what is that pain? What is the emotion behind it? Can you explain the real name behind the pain? So when we practice within that space of pain we are also finding the spaces around and outside it. That is where I put my focus. When I have an injury, or pain, I need to remember that I am not the pain, that I have a whole body with lots of pain free spaces. I feed those places and live within the asana that offers freedom. My body begins to find the answers when my mind is calm and free of the worry and fear, which is the result of practice.
But no matter what, Yoga helps me cope with life. It centers me and gives me a meeting point with spirit within a world that can seem void of connection.
We don’t always do yoga to “fix” something. When one uses yoga to fix something they often times miss the spirit of practice. If someone tells me that they want to do yoga because they have a chronic problem I hesitate before offering them advise.
When they have exhausted all other therapies and are asking for one more quick fix, they miss the essence that I experienced the first time doing yoga and each time I do another pose. To explain that to someone who is looking elsewhere is endless work and effort shared on someone focused on the Problem when the problem might be a symptom of something deeper.
That is how Yoga will change and release. The dedication to practice will bring greater insight and transformation.
When there is an injury if you do yoga or not you are still in pain. With this in mind, bring your awareness into the moments and hours that you are not doing yoga. How are you standing, sitting, walking? Find out how to balance what is creating the chronic cause of Pain.
In the process of practice, take special notice to small improvements, without reacting if the pain comes back. It may come back, but if relief is felt, even temporarily at first, then you are moving in the right direction into freedom with a new knowledge and awareness of your own body.