Faith and Pain

I am in pain and I am overwhelmed by it.

I do not have the courage to practice my dropbacks unassisted….I wonder if I ever will again.  Today I flinched and jerked up when I was half-way down in one of my dropbacks.  I vocalized alarm, my chest compressed in on itself and those stupid involuntary tears came…again.

I really do want to trust in the practice.  I want to practice isvara pranidhana….I want to surrender myself to my teacher, to the power of the Ashtanga tradition and the lineage.

Yes, this is all fine and easy when I’m in the midst of a normal (hard, of course, but not excruciating) practice.  But when I’m faced with real, intense, sharp pain – I lose faith.  I can’t trust.  I am filled with fear and doubt.

I desperately want to do my practice “right”.  I’m a perfectionist and I push myself, I know this.  I don’t want to back out or step it down a notch…I did that the past few months and that didn’t get me anywhere.

Anyways, I don’t understand this whole feel-good new-age yoga concept of “listening to your body”.  I think it’s flawed, because it is a totally natural and human desire to avoid pain and seek pleasure.  This is inherent in our nature I believe.  But, pain is an essential part of growth I believe and seeking pleasure all the time is very limiting.  If I “listened to my body” every morning when the alarm went off at 5:20, I would definitely not get out of bed, because my body is lazy and why in the world would I want to get out from under my cozy duvet! That’s where discipline comes in – it is my dedication to the practice and my desire to progress on my spiritual path that gets me up out of bed.

I’m struggling because I want to be sensitive to my body’s needs, but at the same time, I don’t want to coddle myself.

In my backbends, it’s riot in my head. My natural human instinct is screaming at me  –  “YOU ARE GOING TO HURT YOURSELF! STOP! BAD! BAD! RUN AWAY!!!!”  Then my dedicated hard-core intense Scorpio self responds, “You must push through the pain, the pain is merely fleeting and illusory, you can handle it, buck up and be brave! Don’t be a wimp! You are better than that”.  Then, the hypochondriac control freak inside me is whirling, “You will damage your spine, You will destroy yourself, oh no! It’s too late, you’re already messed up, give up!!! Your body is not made for this!” Then the dispassionate, equable yogi calmly says, “These are merely growing pains, breathe through this, do not be distracted, be patient.”

So it’s really super hard to “listen to my body” when I have 4 distinctly different inner voices giving me conflicting messages!

And now, the next challenge of my day —  I must muster up the the energy and confidence to go be a “teacher” in less than 2 hours.  Yikes!

How am I supposed to lead people in this practice of yoga with enthusiasm and skill when I am a total mess about my own practice?

Sometimes I hate being a yoga teacher.

But, hey, ask me again in 3 hours, and I’m sure I’ll honestly say something about how rewarding and inspiring it is and how grateful I am to be able to make money (pittance, but still, money) doing what I love.

Everything is subject to change and that’s a fact.




4 thoughts on “Faith and Pain

  1. It is very lovely to read your honest and open feelings about your practice challenges. I am not a yoga teacher, but as a student I have had to make peace with ceding back territory which I had conquered so to speak, and back track a little in order to reclaim. leaving a toasty bed and being aware of extreme discomfort don’t carry the same weight. Maybe you are being impatient with your impatience? 🙂 Anyway, a pleasure to read your about your practice.

  2. Pingback: Preview of What’s to Come: David G’s New Years Second Series Weekend. « athayoganusasanam

  3. Pingback: Unseasonal Rain | Lila

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