Pain from the Past
In the west, yoga is seen as a form of physical fitness. People flock to classes for the benefits of increased flexibility, muscle toning, pain reduction, or even as a supplement to a more rigorous training program. And it’s all true. Yoga will absolutely ease pain and improve physical aspects of the body if practiced regularly. I found yoga in exactly this way. I was a sedentary college student and felt the need to move and stretch my body – enter yoga. I was aware, as most are, that there was a deeper side to the practice, but felt that it was not for me.
Fast forward five years later to me, emotionally hanging on by a thread, desperately searching for something, anything to pull me out of the pit I was in. Enter yoga, once again.
During a particularly tough week, I was looking for a distraction from the emotional pain of remembering. I was stuck in a loop of bad memories. I signed up for a vinyasa class that was well beyond my current skill level, hoping that the difficulty would provide a decent distraction for the next hour or so. I was right. My muscles shook, my heart pounded, and I poured sweat, but I was at peace. And I was able to carry this peace with me beyond the yoga studio. I realized I was no longer stuck in the past, reliving my most painful memories. This was something of a turning point in my life. I understood that I had power over my mind, should I choose to exercise it. I was not a slave to this particular pain any longer.
I do know that there are many physical reasons for my radical change in mood, post yoga. Endorphin release is a powerful mood changer. However, I have experienced this same reaction in yoga classes where I don’t even break a sweat. Why is this? For me, yoga is the best way to get out of my mind and back into my body, into the present. I was plagued with pain from the past; mistakes, regrets, and anger.
Yoga demanded my attention to the here and now, where I have learned from my mistakes, accepted my regrets, and let go of my anger. It is, quite literally, coming home to your heart.
Now, I would never say that yoga is the answer to every problem, nor was it my only answer. I was also in weekly sessions of talk-therapy and I had a wonderful group of people who loved me through this time. However, if you are struggling with emotional pain, I would strongly suggest trying (or continuing) yoga. The power here is that not only is yoga a powerful tool for bringing us out of past pain, but it is also a tool to help us process current pain. It is the only modality I know that can accomplish both sides of coin of pain (More on this in my next post!).
So, if you came here in any type of pain, I invite you to close your eyes and take a deep breath. Shut out your worries of the future and your regrets of the past and just be here. In the present.