I get asked sometimes if I experience pain in my practice. The answer is yes. For me this practice was never easy. Yes, one can argue I have flexibility. However that does not mean I never had to struggle in my practice. Some postures were more accessible for me than others, I have to agree. But what drew me to this practice is that the practice may be the same for everyone, everyone follows the same set of postures but we have different expressions of this postures. Mine is not necessarily better than yours, it is just different. Because my body is different than yours, it doesn't give another person less ability to do the pose in their best effort. And for me this is the beauty of the practice. You can go as deep or as shallow as you want, as you see fit. And of course in the beginning of the practice we do not know our own limits and capacities, we tend to over do, or sometimes not dare to do because we are scared. Good company always helps, a good teacher and a good community can always help in this journey. But most of the times it is important for us to feel our restrictions and capabilities ourselves, because no body feels the pain like we do.
I often ask my students, where do you feel it? Of course there are moments when I see the pain, or the feelings, but I cannot observe it all the time, it helps that the student is aware of it. But yes, it does take a lot of... yes you have guessed it, practice to be able to locate this. Often times in our practice there is a lot we think about, the next pose, the room needs cleaning, what we need to do for the rest of the day, the amount of work we still have to do and asking this question, helps me get back to what I am doing at the moment, where am I at at this point. Feeling the present situation. And in being aware of that am able to adjust and find out what is it I need to work on in this, it allows me to find space in the body and in the mind and to free the breath, it allows me to recognise the parts I need to work on. And it is not a one day discovery, it really takes time. And I know, we always think we do not have time. But really we do.
Pain is also for me an indication of where the healing needs to happen. For me it is an indication of stress, physically or emotionally. I like to use the practice as a healing practice. The movements in the practice allows us to discover how to breathe through the pain, or how to move through the pain. And from my own practice I realise that there are ways to free up the pain. Using the breath and calming the mind and letting the body know that it is safe, it allows me to get deeper into these poses and these transitions. In these same movements, I get to know myself, I find out my stiffness, or where I am flexible, I find out where I am strong and where I am weak, and most of the times, it is things I already know but I am still reluctant to accept. But somehow this practice has given me confidence in myself and my abilities and it has taught me that there are a lot of possibilities.
The pain also moves, the body and the mind seems like a puzzle, once we solve something, something else pops out. And yes it is a process of discovery and rediscovery. It is the same everyday and in that way we are able to gauge what is changing. It is not to scare you for the pain. I think even if we do not practice there will be pain, different pain, not better, not worse just different. But practicing and being aware of this pain can be useful. These feelings can be quite intense but we should always know that we can get through these pain and we just got to let time work on it.
I do hope you have a pain free practice, and if something does hurt I do hope you are able to practice through this pain. I hope the practice can also provide you healing as it does to me or at the least I hope you can use this practice as a place to inquire where this pain is coming from. From this knowing where it comes from maybe you can discover that you can heal yourself from this. Stay happy. Stay safe.