Restrictions and Pain

There are a few yogis on earth, I imagine, that have never experienced restriction in their movement, or pain in their body.  The rest of us will encounter, at one or another times in our lives–perhaps even more often–and will have to figure out how best to work with it.

When I use the word restriction, I’m talking about difficulty in a movement, from touching your toes due to lack of flexibility in your hamstrings and lower back, to recovering from an acute injury to your shoulder that keeps you from using your arm.  These restrictions may or may not be accompanied by pain or discomfort.  Some restrictions may be clearly defined and limited, such as the shoulder injury example, but others may be chronic, due to repetitive motion or the way your body developed.

The first thing that I believe most important in working with a bodily restriction is to develop some sort of feelings akin to compassion and curiosity for it, especially if it’s a big one.  Whether you choose to “fight” it or “work with” it, acknowledging the limitation is important.  The softening of attitude may allow you to take your time, fully assessing where it’s really coming from in your body, what it responds best to, what makes it worse, and how long it’s been an issue.  If you’re frustrated with it, or wish it just wasn’t so, it might be hard to have the patience to sit with it and find a long-term strategy.

The successful treatment of most ailment first depends on you as the patient getting to know what it feels like in your body so that you can describe it to your healthcare provider.  It can be easy just to think “this hurts” or “this feels bad”, and leave it at that.  However, if you start investigating the feeling, moving around with it and seeing how it reacts, you’ll get a better sense of it and be able to relay it more accurately to your provider.  This will in turn give them better clues about what will help the most, and what your healing trajectory is most likely to be.