05 Nov Crow pose when your body is in pain. A journey of self-discovery.
I run a Yoga for Pain program for people with persistent pain. Today I was inspired by the progress the current group have made in their understanding of their bodies and themselves. 16 weeks into their yoga experience they attempted – and many performed – crow pose, a challenging arm balance.
To give you an idea of just how impressive this is, in lesson one of Yoga for Pain they moved only hands and feet because anything more would exacerbate their pain.
What makes this kind of progress possible?
Self-acceptance is the key to a safe yoga practice
This group of women have helped create an environment in which they feel safe working with their bodies as they are. They are comfortable that they can work within their limits, and have trust that what they do is OK.
When you are in pain you can spend a lot of time seeking solutions outside from outside – from doctors, physiotherapists or even friends. It’s easy to lose touch with your own capacity to know what is best for your body. It can take some gentle care to reconnect with self-trust and self-knowing.
As your practice leads to greater self-understanding and self-acceptance, you’ll learn that doing crow pose today is the same as taking extra long savasana rest tomorrow, because that is what your body needs in that moment. These two seeming extremes are two sides of the same coin of the yoga practice.
When you do it for yourself, you inspire others to do the same
By happily working within their limits, each person in the class has made new additions to the group feel safe enough to do the same.
Thank you to everyone who has come to these classes and now leads by example. You make this possible for everyone else.
People with pain can seem needy, but that’s just because they don’t yet feel supported
People with chronic health conditions, particularly when there is no clear cause, can be seen as difficult, complaining or needy.
Perhaps you know someone who is the apparent opposite: they are so scared of being perceived as needy that they push themselves in the opposite direction just to prove (often to themselves) that they aren’t weak.
In my experience working with this group, I have seen that neediness is simply a response to a perception that there is no support available. We feel that something is required from outside to fix us, to take away our pain, to remedy our incapacity. It can manifest as trying to prove our self-worth to others and ourselves, either by accepting more support than we need or by trying to do it all ourselves.
Learn to feel supported from within and you realise it’s OK to ask for help
In How to Support a Loved One psychologist Dr Susan Holtzman explains that the belief that you have support is instrumental in the wellness of people with disabilities and pain.
When yogis at Yoga for Pain find the self-acceptance that allows postures like crow pose to be attempted, without struggle, and without fear for a setback in the following days, they discover that support for their own healing and growth is always available within.