I’ve just read some of Ganga White’s Yoga Beyond Belief and was intrigued by the chapter called “Pain is your friend”.
Some teachers pretend Yoga presents no risk. In fact things can go wrong, according to White who first welcomed big names like Patthabi Joïs and B.K.S. Iyengar to Los Angeles in the 1970’s.
Ganga explains how he started practicing Yoga without paying much “attention to sequencing, structural dynamics, alignment and physiological principles of kinesiology”. He was more or less told to achieve the postures.
“Soon I started developing back pain.” He finally had to stay in bed for a month. But when he started to feel better, he also started practicing again, finding new ways of practicing. Finding awareness. ” Initially, the pain limited me to only the simplest of poses and I could not bend much at all.”
Ganga realised that pain was “a language”, the “voices of body intelligence”. “Pain is necessary and defines the limits and the edges of strain and injury.”
He kept exploring new ways of practicing, learnt the “inner process” of Yoga. The inner voice of Yoga.
“Sharp pain can mean “Stop!” Dull pain can mean to go slowly and breathe as we move energy into new areas.” … He “began to see how these inner messages literally guided [him] to adjust [his] movements’s subtlety and showed [him] the way to heal [himself].”
“There is no magical technique or practice that will keep us free from harm, injury or physical problems… It is staying constantly alert and vigilant that will guide us in the right direction.”