No pain, no gain?

I always thought that if I feel pain in a posture meant that the posture was working. If I can’t feel pain am, I doing the posture wrong?

A. The pain conundrum. How much is acceptable? How can I tell the difference between a good pain or a bad pain? Is pain really just a sensation? Here’s my answer. We all have a very personal relationship with pain and our threshold varies throughout our life depending on other factors. Certainly, pain is a sensation but that’s the same as saying that language is just a sound, which it is a sound but more than that it’s a form of communication. So, when we experience pain when we are practicing yoga, we really need to be able to decode what our body is trying to communicate. It might be saying that this posture is pulling through scar tissue, twisted myofascia or tight muscle fibres and that the pain is simply an indicator of the damage at the site. Or the pain might be a signal to us to come out of the posture because we are causing damage at simply by making that shape with our body.

There is a 15 second or three breath rule which gives the mind sufficient time to detect the degree in threat level. After three breaths we can usually decide whether the body will release or whether we want to come out of the posture, or actually reduce the amount of force the posture is generating. Remember, this is why we use props: so that we can work therapeutically in a posture. Try not to do the Hokey Cokey, where you’re in the posture one moment and out the next, then in again, and so on. Nor should you stay in the posture at the point of discomfort or pain that makes you hold your breath and frown.

The muscles of expression in the face always give the game away in a class but you are practicing remotely I cannot guide you. Whilst doubt is also an obstacle to our practice, I would also advise that if you are in any doubt as to whether the pain you are experiencing is beneficial, then don’t do the posture. You really need to seek advice from a yoga teacher or of course you can contact me. And if you are in a posture and cannot feel pain, enjoy it! After all, life doesn’t always have to be a sufferance. Focus instead on where your mind goes in the posture and keeping your breathing rhythm even.