confessions of a pain filled yoga teacher
I sat at my mat and began to cry. My entire upper back was locked. Three weeks on the road away from my safe, usual routine triggered the surfacing of so much pain. “it is just because I am not practicing my yoga daily” and “I am driving too much” and “my meals are inconsistent” and “the desert heart is bringing everything up” and “I haven’t ran in week” and… and… and… the excuses continued.
He sat me down, looked me dead in the eyes and began: “Have you ever considered that maybe all of that doing that you do, all of that yoga even, has hidden all of your pain? Covered it up each day after class without ever actually fixing it?”
He could tell by the look in my eyes that I did not like his seemingly harsh judgement. Bryon likes yoga; “miss yoga twice a day” he observes “yoga practitioners, especially teachers, can endure a lot of pain when they do lots of yoga and sometimes put little attention to self-work. How about sitting with themselves before, during and after each practice and reflecting, asking some basic questions such as:
– How does my body feel?
– Do I experience any pain? Is it chronic?
– Do certain yoga poses trigger that pain?
– Am I doing poses in a way suitable to my particular body and my own ailments?
– If I do not know the answer to this… then why am I doing poses at all?
Echos of students voices reverberate in my heard – back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, SI problems, tight hamstrings, arthritis and cramping – you name it… it all comes up by the third sun salutation.
“Well??” Bryon disrupts me from my auto-procrastination reminding me that he did ask me a question. I want to yell “yoga is SOOO good for me and quote everything I have ever read in Yogi Times, Yoga Journal and Yoga International!
But I can’t.
I can’t lie to myself, let alone my partner.
“Maybe…I could ditch my yoga ego and finally, finally, ask for help?”
Bryon proceeds to open up my spine using structural integration touch therapy. He moves slowly and safely around my upper back consistently asking how I feel, reminding me to breath deeply and just like in my hatha yoga practice, with each breath I feel releases – like little pop rock candies exploding and dissipating. The pain seems to be held securely in his hands. I breathe again and his hands gently guide my pain – which I am now visualizing as an illuminated pearl – I feel it float towards my shoulders and up my neck. I feel a bit mad as I recognize that my pain is tangible and shiftable at the mere touch of a hand.
BLACK MAGIC I think! “Focus Ash – breathe” – one more deep breath met with deep tissue touch and it is gone.
Gone. Gently carried up and out of my body to who knows where. I begin to cry again, this time of shock, joy and relief, not pain. He stands supportively beside me.
“Be patient, drink water and rest” he advises.
Back to my downward dog I broke through my upper back limitations with a total new awareness of my pain – of the fact that it was not located in my upper back, but rather in my hips, hips that years of running and yoga practices (teacher dilemma) have been pressured into taking all the responsibility for my movement.
Experiencing a new style of physical therapy helped me shift the way i move, brought renewed awareness to the emotional and physical restrictions I felt confined with and allowed me to change how I use my own body.
Truth is that what I experienced today, whether I could call it a rebirth, re-awakening, osteopathy, myofascial release or energetic healing, has been transformational and mind blowing!
To your health.
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