Lessons from 2020

Nov 24, 2020
Over this past year, I have experienced all sorts of things as I’m sure you have as well. On a physical level, all the little issues have come to the surface. Maybe this year’s experience have made us all more sensitive to what has been lying just beneath surface. A time of growth for sure!
Many people come to Iyengar yoga for pain, there are many whose focus is to resolve your pain and in Pune at the Institute thousands of people have been helped when no one else could help them. There are books and remedies and in class you learn techniques so the contribution from the Iyengar method to our health is phenomenal.
2.16. Pain that has not yet come is avoidable. A note of hope after what might be experienced as a somewhat pessimistic sutra. If pain is avoidable, it means that there is something we can do to create a better fate for ourselves. The choices we make in life determine our experiences of happiness or suffering.
Carrera, Jaganath. Inside The Yoga Sutras: A Comprehensive Sourcebook for the Study and Practice of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (p. 120). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.
But I believe we can get stuck there, avoiding pain, fearing pain, thinking yoga is about avoiding or healing all pain and we miss the bigger picture of Yoga and of Iyengar yoga.
I wasn’t able to resolve my pain with all that I have learned and the advice I received also wasn’t working. This has been frustrating.
When my teacher Mary Dunn died of perineal cancer our community lost the captain of our ship and the grief was excruciating but what bothered me most were the comments “how could she get sick, she practiced yoga!” You will not escape death or sickness just because you practice yoga. How you face it, deal with it, understand it now this is where yoga will help you.. Someone asked Mary if she was still practicing yoga from her hospital bed. Did this person think that yoga was only doing Sirasana for 20 minutes with all the variations?
2.9 svarasa-vāhī viduṣo 'pi tathārūḍho 'bhiniveśaḥ
Self-preservation or attachment to life is the subtlest of all afflictions. It is found even in wise men.
The tendency of]clinging to life affects even the wise; it is an inherent tendency.
Why do we practice? It’s true yoga does make us healthier no question. But it the harmonization of mind and body and connection to something greater that is the true meaning of yoga (to unite)
1.2 yogaḥ citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ
“Yoga is the removal of the patternings of the consciousness.”
“Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”
1.3 tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe avasthānam
“Then, the seer dwells in his own true splendor.
When the consciousness is stilled then our impression of our self is no longer distorted.
Julia Shaida. wwww.juliashaida.com
And if one doesn’t quiet the movements of the mind, we then identify with them and take them as reality and define who we are.
Practicing yoga helps us avoid pains we don’t know about and it can also reveal ones deeply buried, like turning the soil, and finding new weeds cropping up that you can pull up and then plant new seeds that bear fruit. This is what I feel this year has been for me.
So yes, while we practice yoga to resolve the pain of now and perhaps avoid the unknown pains of tomorrow, those weeds can crop up and give us the chance to face it and find a solution. Or perhaps our practice gives us such profound awareness that what bothers, pains another doesn’t affect you in the same way.
Modern medicine tends to deal with symptoms rather than the root. I’m not kicking some immediate relief believe you me. But I had to let go of thinking one way, one solution, accept where I was and get help and try differing things.
I think whatever I did on my mat with what I was doing off all came together. I believe this was a message to look at a bigger picture.
All pain is not just physical and our body parts are so interconnected you can’t just look at the point of pain. The body is a messenger. I took a macro view to get to the bottom of the problem and this informed me. I approached my practice not just from the point of back pain, and it immediately helped.
When I’m in Pune at the Institute there seems to be a very different viewpoint on pain. It’s not avoided and this can be intimidating. There is some pain we need to face and walk into because the process of going through it is growth.
I hate being in pain. It is NO fun. But it is a great teacher…once you can get past just being cranky and irritable and accept where you are.
What brought you to yoga?
Why do you continue to practice?
What is your relationship to pain? What did you learn about pain as a child?
How has your practice affected this viewpoint? Or has it?
How has pain been your teacher? Or not?

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