Day 7 & Day 8

This is another suggestion post in the Daily Dose of Yoga challenge. As always, feel free to modify.

Day 7: Attachment & Aversion:

Attachment is that magnetic pattern which clusters in pleasure and pulls one towards such experience.
Aversion is the magnetic pattern which clusters in misery and pushes one from such experience.

– The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 2.7-8

No big secret: I like doing things whose overall result is pleasurable, and I dislike doing things whose overall result is painful. Also no surprise: I cannot live my life always experiencing pleasure while never experiencing pain. It just doesn’t work that way.

Because it’s a bad endo day, I’m thinking of my relationship to pain in very physical terms. I would really, really like to find a way to not feel like my pelvis is exploding right now — but 16 years of attempts hasn’t produced anything that works acceptably.** Realistically, this is probably not going to be the day when I experience a magical pain-free breakthrough. Realistically, this is probably going to be another day when I practice meeting my aversion head-on and staying equanimous through pain.

And you know what? As much as I don’t like that, it’s helpful to have it as a skill. Similarly, as much as I don’t like some parts of my asana practices (quad work, I am looking at you!), learning how to keep the rest of my body appropriately calm through that intense burning helps me recognize where I can let go and to let go where I can.

I’m not saying that every unpleasant situation should be met with calm acceptance. Some things, I think, I should be averse to; some things are outright bad or oppressive, and those deserve to be met with some fight. That said, not everything I’m averse to — fishing soggy pieces of old food out of the dish drain, strengthening and stretching my quads, even handling endometriosis pain I can’t relieve — is evil or even worth avoiding.

** I don’t mean that nothing helps at all or that I don’t use anything for pain. Just that nothing — particularly nothing that’s legal for or accessible to me — reduces pain to where it doesn’t interfere with my daily functioning. I also don’t mean that I’m looking for suggestions in this post.

Day 8: An Intense Quad Stretch

This is a stretch I usually use when my body is already fairly warmed up — so maybe well into a vinyasa practice or after a run. Otherwise, I run the risk of my quads just being too tight to get much out of the pose.

No matter how stretchy I feel beforehand, this pose is always an exercise in meeting my aversions. My thighs are big muscles, and it takes them a long damn time to relax. And the relaxing process, it fucking burns. Not so acutely that it feels like — or that I’m worried about — anything tearing, but really, like I’m kneeling just a bit too close to a campfire but am not quite ready to back away.

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I'm here. I like stuff. Some other stuff, I like less.

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Posted in asana, restorative
2 comments on “Day 7 & Day 8
  1. Shauna says:

    I find your comments on pain and aversion relevant to what I’ve been thinking about lately. I’ve been trying to find a way to frame the severe pain I end up in on a semi-regular basis, and the day-to-day pain, as something that doesn’t have to cause an equivalent amount of emotional distress. I don’t know how to take it all calmly, or take anything but pain=bad from it. But I think I need to, to some extent. And I’m finding there’s a difference between tolerance, where I’m ignoring pain, and actually being able to process it without setting off depressive episodes. It’s something I’ll have to keep thinking about. Thank you for your thoughts on the subject, in your post.

    • Tori says:

      For me, an important factor has been when I’ve had times to just be in pain, where I haven’t had to worry about working through pain in order to get other things (school, work, errands, chores, etc.) accomplished. It would have been very difficult — maybe even impossible — for me to start working on separating physical pain from emotional distress if it had been during a time when the pain was actively keeping me from something I really wanted or needed to be doing. To use a bad analogy, that would be sort of like learning to drive by dumping a kid in the middle of the Indy 500.

      Which I also think is why it was helpful starting with some yoga. That sort of intense discomfort from certain poses is what I “want” to be doing rather than what’s keeping me from what I want to be doing. Also, it’s controlled: If the sensation gets too intense I can back off or come out of a pose at any time.

      It’s harder to make that transition to everything else, but I’m working on it.

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