Pain is good! Really?! – Practice Ahimsa on the mat


Ahimsa is one of the five yamas, which is the first “limb” of the great sage Patanjali’s eightfold path (ashtanga) as described in the Yoga Sutras. Ahimsa is the absence of violence in physical, mental and emotional forms.

We feel frustrated when our physical yoga practice doesn’t progress but yoga is not about how many asanas we can do, how flexible or strong we may be at the moment. Everyone holds pain inside, but you can overcome this when you practice ahimsa. By allowing us to move out of negative thoughts about the body; accepting ourselves completely by letting go of expectations of what you should do. Instead of taking in negative emotions and working against us, our bodies respond by working with us, hence the practice becomes comfortable and a way we truly learn about ourselves.

It’s inevitable that we experienced aches or pains in an active lifestyle. We always live by these motivational quotes that revolves around ‘pain’ – ‘no pain, no gain‘ or ‘pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever‘… … Be kind to your body, lookout of the signals that your body sends because not all pain is good. Pain may start when we move a certain way as a minor pinch, then it may develop into a chronic pain. By understanding the difference between good pain vs bad pain, we’ll know when it’s safe for us to work through the pain or when to stop and see a doctor.

Good pain is soreness that you feel after physical activity but in the absence of an injury. It is shows that the muscle is adapting to change. With this type of soreness, it stimulates the muscles to heal, rebuild muscle fibers and strengthening to prevent injuries and to improve our performance. This effect is known as delayed onset muscles soreness (aka. DOMS). Typically it sets in a day or two and should subside. It can be quite tender to touch and tends to be spread out over a large area.

Bad pain is the sharp or tingling (aka. pin and needles) feeling with numbness, occurs due to incorrect movement, pose and form. It leads to injuries at the most vulnerable areas such as the lumbar vertebrae (e.g. slipped disk), shoulder areas, joints (e.g. knee) and pressure or trauma to the nerve roots at the spinal cord causing pain in arm and leg. These injuries will result in instant pain, discomfort and swelling. The location of ‘bad pain’ is more specifically at the point of injury, pain is constant or increasing over time which does not go away. When a muscle nears fatigue you will feel the burning sensation and that’s the time to give it a break before this burning sensation turns into a strain.

In yoga practice, it’s not about pushing ourselves beyond our limits to exhaustion or injury, it’s to respect our body and not to judge or criticize ourselves and others. It is a spiritual journey in loving ourselves unconditionally and with compassion but never pushing ourselves to the point of harm. This differentiates yoga from other physical activities.

Reference: Yogapedia
Image Credit: Pinterest

Denise On
YTT Sep’2017 (Weekend)

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