It happened in a yoga class, the early rising of an insight. Maggie, our class instructor at the Yoga Room, encouraged us as we breathed through a posture: “Don’t turn away from the pain.” I’d heard it before, but this time it resonated as meaningful at many levels, relevant to the many challenges in life.
As a psychotherapist, I work with clients who struggle with the agony of emotional pain, pain that emanates from and through multiple dimensions of their lives. I became curious to tap the wisdom of yoga in experiencing pain, to explore the healing parallels between yoga and therapy, and to expand my understanding of how to support others during painful times.
Maggie generously devoted the next class to the yoga mindset when encountering tension and pain in the body. After moving through the experiential learning of the class and processing its message, here is what I understood: in yoga and in therapy, we encourage self-compassion, self-care and the release of self-judgment.
Recognition, acceptance and attention
Pain is often an unwanted guest in our lives, challenging our sense of control and well-being; we can sometimes feel helpless and overwhelmed, even angry. Whether experiencing physical pain or emotional pain (such as grief, worry, sorrow, regret, wounding, disappointment, loneliness), our instinct may be to turn from it, avoid it, resent it, cover it up, resist it, minimize it, numb it. However, Maggie asks: “If your sore knee were a friend in pain, would you turn away? No, you’d step up.” Continue reading >>