A Series on Pain: Part 1

I went to the doctor for a pain I’ve been having in my wrist. It turns out to be a ganglion cyst and not that big of a deal, but as a precaution, he took an X-ray to check for arthritis.

After, we sat down and he told me about my options and how the cyst might play out in the future. Something he said stuck with me and I find my mind coming back to it.

He said, ‘the pain you feel isn’t causing you harm.’

As yoga teachers, we’re encouraged to keep students out of painful spaces, but there is even some conversation about discomfort in practice that’s safe. Swami Sivananda has a poem called, ‘I am Pain, Thy Teacher,which plainly discloses how pain is a friend. I have had students get upset with me because I have introduced the idea of discomfort as a part of yoga shattering their ‘spa-like’ idea of what yoga should be. Yoga itself is marketed as instant peace, among other things.

To all of our detriment, we live in a society which glorifies 24/7 happiness and stigmatizes pain. Equating poverty with pain and pills with solutions.

Upon writing the first draft of this, I started to segment out different experiences I’ve had with pain and students. It became increasingly clear how pain shows up differently and I’d like to spend the next few weeks examining these different avenues. My hope is this conversation may garner a different level of sensitivity within you, the reader. Maybe it informs your practice, maybe it helps you be more sensitive to others, maybe it creates language you’ve never considered before.

Thank you in advance for considering these ideas,