How To Live Pain Free The Yogic Way
We are but a heap of atoms aren’t we?
A heap of atoms which when divinely constructed make up about 75 trillion cells which then web together in various sized tubes. Even the teeth and bones have tubes running, and actually, webbing, throughout. Each one connected to another. An incredibly complex system far beyond our mind’s ability to comprehend. Mainly because the "how" will often interfere with the weighing and measuring methods.
Pardon me while I revise Sir Isaac Newton's quote: 'A little knowledge leads away from God, much...leads towards Him'
To know a little bit of science will make one not believe in god, but to know a lot will.
Our internal processes are automated. We don’t have to think about how to breathe or when to pump our heart. In fact, most of us believe that we have little control over the internal processes of our bodies. Since we think we have little control, we often feel helpless to the pain we experience. Becoming then, a true victim of circumstance.
As a therapeutic yoga teacher of over 10 years I’d like to share some findings about how we can take control of our health by way of the breath, utilizing some simple yet powerful yoga/mindfulness practices. How we can develop a deeper relationship with the Self. How we can in fact communicate with our bodies and learn from them so that we can truly live pain free and experience life in our natural state. Bliss.
— Communicate With Your Body Using Breath
Our cells are incredibly intelligent, holding memory, (taking commands and returning to wholeness and what not.) Some of the memory is what we call genetics, or DNA. Up until recently it was believed that genetics were unchangeable. However, new science is now telling us what ancient yogi’s have known for a millennia. That we can have a relationship of instruction with both our cells and even DNA.
I’m not saying this is an easy process. It takes a strong focused intention. Especially because we often carry years of negative conditioning surrounding our bodies. But more and more we are learning that we can communicate with our bodies, easing them, letting them know to relax and thereby aiding them in doing what they already innately know how to do - recalibrate/self regulate.
Because it is not necessarily easy to develop this deeper relationship with the body, we have begun to develop tools. Things like NLP (neural linguistic programming) and positive affirmations have become tremendously popular over recent years. Why? Because they work. We are just beginning to scientifically understand and validate the fact that our cells respond to vibration from sound and, yes, even vibration from thought.
People across the globe are saying positive affirmations to themselves on a regular basis and, guess what, their lives and health often improve.
In my unique form of therapeutic yoga I utilize a lot of positive affirmations. Sometimes even in their native context which would be in the form of a Sanskrit mantra. Within yoga, Mantra’s and well-intended thought are extra powerful because they are always paired with conscious, connective breathing.
The Breath is the Key, and the foundation of ancient practices.
Prana. Qi. Ki. Breath. Oxygen. Spirit. Consciousness.
Once we have brought our awareness to connective breathing we can communicate with the body. We can take our time to go through each internal system to ensure every part has been touched by breath consciousness. Once the body has been fully graced by breath consciousness then the body is ready to receive.
— Working With The Body
While we of course represent unity, there is also this powerful thing that happens when we think of our bodies as a separate intelligent entity, like a pet to be loved and cared for. It is in this imaginary separation that we can convince the mind to have patience and compassion for the body, and that in and of itself is a power tool. Many people feel a need to compete with the body, to batter it with unnecessary "no pain no gain" methods that actually feed in to the illusion of "I'm not enough" or "there is not enough."
Ask the body what is it feeling right now?
Why is it feeling this way?
When a body part is alarming you through pain response, or even through an emotional trigger, it is the body summoning the brain for more oxygen to any one particular area of the body.
If you're feeling any pain now, take a pause and focus all of your attention on that area. Now breathe into it...and give it seven or eight intentional breaths of gratitude.
Why we say pain is a gift, it means the body and brain are still working in unity. Don’t try to ignore the pain. Embrace it fully. Feel it and know it is alarming you so that you can work through it.
The body speaks to us constantly. All one needs to do is tune in to it’s cries and send it some intentional oxygen flow filled with our thoughts of gratitude, rather than taking the pain personally.
— The Source of All Disease
How disease develops: It has been said time and time again that all disease is the result of one single thing - stress.
Or in other words, going over the inflammation threshold and not giving the cells enough oxygen or nourishment. There are of course countless ways this can happen.
As we move through life we often come across challenges which result in stress triggers. Stress triggers change the way we breathe by way of a change in posture. The breathing pattern changes from thoracic diaphragm (belly breathing) to shallow chest breathing where the upper lobe of the lungs are used resulting in an incomplete breath. The short, incomplete breath deprives the brain of oxygen, which means other parts of the body will not receive equal air distribution either. Which can then results in a self perpetuating cycle of stress and anxiety and, over time, a compounding ffect on the cells (and not the good kind of compounding).
There was an ancient formula for total wellness and it was in equal air distribution between cells.
Yoga legend BKS Iyengar stated during his practice that through Prana (breath) and Asana (movement) he directs the flow of energy and awareness in his body to reach every cell.
Disease cannot exist in oxygen rich systems.
BKS lived until the age of 96, teaching yoga every day after surviving a childhood bout of tuberculosis which might have killed him had he not developed yogic discipline at age eleven. Needless to say, the man knows what he’s talking about.
Point being, to ensure our optimal level of vitality and longevity we need to make sure to communicate with the body by consciously sending Prana, or oxygen throughout it.
— Relax Your Pelvic Floor
Lets talk about the pelvic floor. That wonderful little muscle group that we use to urinate with.
This tiny little center of gravity which holds so much weight and power and yet, we rarely bring our full awareness there.
Little do most people know, but the pelvic floor is intrinsically connected to almost all other parts of your body. Think about it. It is a center point. The bridge between your lower body and your upper. If the pelvic floor is out of alignment, it can result in hip pain, jaw pain, knee pain, back pain, rectal prolapse, uterine prolapse, and hemorrhoids, to name a few effected areas. Of course the list goes on.
Pelvic floor alignment is absolutely crucial to your overall body alignment.
When was the last time you simply brought awareness to your pelvic floor?
Let’s do that right now. Focus all of your awareness on your pelvic floor. What is it telling you? Is it relaxed or tense, or perhaps just chillin?
Can you ask it to sink down and allow your hips to expand a little? If not, maybe go urinate and come back and try again...
(…It’s cool, I’ll wait… :-)
Often, clients will have a small revelation when they notice how much tension they hold in this area on the regular. And how relieving it can often result in the body's willingness to re-align. A requirement for each of us everyday, even me.
It’s amazing how much one can accomplished in our overall alignment when we simply bring loving awareness to any one area of the body.
Tip: To help with a severely misaligned pelvic floor, hips and back, one must invest in the softest foam roller one can find. Warming up with Kapalabhati or Bastrika K.D. to begin (If you're not familiar with these breathing techniques then I would love to share them with you. Then slowly distributing weight evenly as you move mindfully up and down the foam roller with coordinated breath.
Try This Simple Exercise:
Here is my exercise for you this week. Focus on your pelvic floor. Whether you are suffering from back pain, hip pain, jaw pain, emotional pain, or even if you are as healthy as a horse and only wish to maintain vitality.
Whenever you go to the toilet, (so it’s nationally known), urinate fully, stay awhile and relax into it even more. And if you live in the west and use a western toilet you must eventually invest in a squatty potty or a little stool that you can prop your legs up with into a more natural position. Like a squat.
Then when you go to wash your hands (like a good samaritan), utilize the ever abundant and most appreciated warmth of the water to hone in and relax the pelvic floor even more. This will invite your hips to splay a bit and to move with grace and ease. Anytime you are having some warm shower therapy, if you have a detachable shower head - you guessed it - spend a few moments warming yourself down there;)
Pay special attention throughout the day and notice if you experience less pain in the various places of your body. See if you can harness connective breathing instead of becoming consumed by thought.
— The Joy and Power of A Smile
Here is one of the most important things to remember to live a pain free life: simply smile.
Smiling has a special science behind it. When you smile it relaxes the jaw, tongue and throat. This opens the temple pathways and allows oxygen supply to better reach the frontal lobe, inviting the analytical mind to simply let go. When the analytical mind is given an opportunity to let go, we then activate the physical intelligence. The same part of the brain which we use to drive a car.
The physical intelligence is far superior to the analytical mind I will have you know. It understands truth, where the analytical mind can become easily clouded through various perceptions and misaligned life style choices. Like sitting in chairs, standing in shoes, and drinking coffee.
So how do we tame the analytical mind which can cause one much stress if untrained? Through breath of course, and if you smile, it's EVEN more effective.
Trust me, the mind wants a bit of taming, as it is easy for the mind to get into a habitual cycle of overuse. Every part of the body functions more optimally when the analytical mind yields to the will of nature. Not the other way around.
"Where awareness goes, energy flows." - Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
Be aware of where your energy is flowing. Again, is it unconsciously residing too much in the head? Smile and breathe. Get out of there and in to your body. Forgetting not that the brain IS the body, and will readily comply with clear direction.
Some of my students find it disgruntling when I repeatedly ask them to smile during a private yoga class together. But I force to them anyways :-)
Smile as much as you can. Its a smart way to live.
One can even spread the energy of a smile to other places in the body. Helping to expand that simple joy and relaxation. For instance, feed the subconsciousness a nice image such as: as I smile my hips smile. Feels pleasant, right?
On the subject of smiling, let us please discuss the importance of NOT judging one who smiles frequently. We live in a funny society. Sometimes people who simply look happy are ostracized. Its true. I know you’ve experienced it. Your expression of joy can be off putting to others who are riding a lower vibration.
Smiley people, contrary to popular belief, are the ones trying their hardest. Many people say the grouchy people need love more than anyone. While this may be true, I also feel it is important to honor the people who are smiling rather than casting shades of green envy and dampening their ripple. Some of the most depressed people (people in need of deep-rest/serenity medicine and love) are those who are working hard to do their very best. I know this through my own experience.
— How To Live Pain Free
Smile, relax and talk to your body through the catalyst of breath. When you breathe, breathe into yourself deeply and direct that energy - oxygen - Prana - where to go. Focus on central points like the Pelvic Floor and Jaw, thoracic diaphragm and heart and watch with utter joy as a wave of health and wellness emanate from within.
There is no mention in the yoga sutras that yoga was for health and wellness for the record, it was always that by aligning the self with "prana"or "source," health and wellness, and even beauty to some degree, would be a byproduct of that alignment.
Pain is gift, and to live pain free we simply recognize that gift and utilize it for our growth. Perhaps even helping others who are going through similar situations.
Thank your body daily for the miracle it is.
Be kind and gentle with yourself.
Oceans of Love,
Modern Day Cave Yogi