Part 5: Applying it to practice

The practice asks you to monitor pain on different levels: mental and physical. And sometimes they blur or get confused.

I once had a student who would say ‘ow’ every time they felt sensation. We would be doing postures and they would say ‘ow’ all the time. The smallest movements would facilitate a response. It was making practice difficult and so I had to change my approach to figure out what was going on. So I asked, “are you feeling pain or are you feeling sensation?”

They thought for a moment, ‘I’m feeling sensation.’

“Is the sensation warning you of pain, or are you feeling the work of the body?”

As soon as we created more categories for their experience, we were able to have a more productive practice. They would feel something and instead of backing out of the posture, they would think about what they were experiencing and qualify it.

The yoga concept of tapas discusses the transformative process and how the process often has an element of intense friction to it. But it’s the friction people don’t want to stay for. They feel the challenge and shy away or come out of a pose early thinking something is wrong, but they actually were just feeling the work.

How far down the path of exploring your discomfort would you go in order to emerge on the other side?

Charles Duhrig writes about the addictive process in The Power of Habit as a cycle of a habit is the Cue>the response>the reward. At some point, the sensation of work became the cue, the response was to stop and the reward was to no longer feel that anymore. But what if the effort IS the reward? Or maybe, the effort is the cue that you’re on the right path to the reward?

But what is the reward of yoga? As students, we know the reward concept of Samadhi (bliss state), but few are working toward this definition. Maybe as we close out the year, its time to redefine what your reward of the practice is.

Your friend in exploration,