Chapter 2: Stability – The physical body (Asana)
2.1. The true nature of health
2.2. Awareness: Every pore of the skin has to become an eye
2.3. Dynamic Extension: From the core of your being
2.4. Relaxation: In every pose there should be repose
2.5. Lightness: Think light and feel light
2.6. Balance: Evenness is harmony
2.7. Pain: Find comfort even in discomfort
In yoga class, many students think that they must simply grit their teeth and bear it until the teacher tells them they can come out of the asana. This way of looking at asana is the wrong attitude. The pain is there as a teacher. As we experience pleasures happily, we must also learn not to lose our happiness when pain comes. Learn to find comfort even in discomfort. We must not try to run away from the pain but to move through and beyond it. This is the cultivation of tenacity and perseverance which is a spiritual attitude towards yoga and towards life. Since pain is inevitable, asana is a laboratory in which we discover how to tolerate the pain that cannot be avoided and how to transform the pain. The asana helps us to develop greater tolerance in body and mind so that we can bear the stress and strain more easily.
Backbends will learn us courage and tenacity, balancing asanas cultivate tolerance. If you can adapt to and balance in a world that is always moving and unstable , you learn how to become tolerant to the permanent change and difference.
So how does one learn how to make pain bearable? It is not by making faces that the pain becomes more bearable. One must create relaxation even when there is the right amount of tension. This relaxation can start by releasing the stress residing in the temples and in the cells of the brain. This in turn takes the stress away from the nerves and muscle fibers. This is how you can convert an unbearable pain into a bearable one.
One must also learn the difference between right pain and wrong pain. Right pain is not only constructive but also exhilarating and involves challenge, while wrong pain is destructive and causes excruciating suffering. Right pain is for our growth and for our physical and spiritual transformation. It is felt as a gradual lengthening and strengthening feeling and must be differentiated from wrong pain, which is often a sharp and sudden feeling. In addition, if you get a pain that is persistent, and intensifying as you work , it is likely a wrong pain too. And always remember that if the practice of today damages the practice of tomorrow it is the wrong practice. Asana practice gives us opportunities to look at obstacles in the practice but also in life, and discover how we can cope with them.