The Pain Behind The Pose is all that lies behind the physical expression of yoga. We know when we step onto our mat that what happens in our physical bodies is a small feat compared to what happens within. Sensations are felt, emotions lit, stories told, thoughts flood, no matter how long you’ve practiced, no matter how strong your physical form. We as individuals experience being in asana differently due to differences in body structure, past experience, stressors, injury, muscle strength, and so on. Each individual practicing asana, in some capacity, no matter length of time one has practiced, experiences pain behind poses in differed forms. There are the obvious physical challenges that our bodies work through as we practice, but what else is happening? What do we experience emotionally and psychologically? What stories do we hold and tell with each physical expression? What seeds are being burned? What Samskara’s are being brought to the surface? What is the realness that’s happening within us?
This collective project is a culmination of yogis and yoginis that share their story behind the pose. I envision for us to expose the realness that so often is tucked away, or kept to ourselves, perhaps rejecting in the embrace of the pose. This experience can be so powerful to each of us on an individual level, and my belief is its power being strengthened that much more by sharing our stories. We are all in this journey collectively. My hope is to create a Sangha of many to continue sharing and exploring all that comes to us as we create different form with our bodies. What beautiful stories we create in the midst of the pain behind the pose, whether you’ve been practicing for 30 years, new to this practice, or somewhere in-between. This blog will be filled with images of poses from folks around the world and their story of their pain behind the pose.
Inspiration for the project I was inspired by my teacher Marlysa Sullivan, while she lead us through a powerful practice, discovering our Buddhi, (higher mind, “silent observer”) One of the poses was Navasana (Boat Pose). I stray away from this pose as much as I can, disliking it. I’m uncomfortable with it, body shakes, mind wanders, ego is challenged, and let’s be honest, who really wants to have their ego challenged?
As I move into this pose, beginning to shake, breath getting louder, mind getting stronger and quite aggressive, running through thoughts of inadequacy, the lack of strength in my abdominals, why I can’t be still in the pose, eyes bulging out of my head, waiting for guidance to get out of the pose, which does not happen. I realize I can make the choice to get out of it, or choose to come back to the breath, stray away from the self depreciating thoughts, and move out of the space of “I can’t”, to “I am”. I choose the latter, sitting in the space of observation that I AM shaking, I AM breathing deeper, my mind IS stronger, but stronger in focusing on this higher mind, this idea that my body is strengthening through all of the shakiness, my mind IS learning focus and working together with my breath to keep me strong, centered, and ultimately allowing me to just observe for even a moment. To ease off the judgment and the pain behind what I feel when I get into this pose. I am for a short time, able to experience Buddhi and the cessation of thought. This is not an easy feat. Some days it’s much more challenging than others. It’s one pose that allows me to step face to face with my discomfort, my self-doubt, and to sit with it to see what it has to say, without judging, accepting where I am, mind body and spirit.