In Leboyer’s classic book of yoga for pregnant women, Inner Beauty, Inner Light, he includes an interesting analysis of how pain during practice should be treated. Pregnant or not, this analysis applies to all yoga practitioners and provides a way of thinking about pain that is respectful and safe.
“Pain is nothing but a message, an alarm bell. What will you do when the alarm bell starts ringing? Will you sit there? Will you say: ‘This bell is terrible. But one has to be courageous, to endure.’ Will you not rather go and see why it is ringing?” (page 49)
Yoga practice is a process of never ending discovery. Each time that we move our bodies into an asana, it will feel different, look different and act different. It is this mindful practice on our mat that provides us with a map for understanding our reactions, thoughts and way of moving through the world off the mat.
Yoga practice should not be painful or cause injury. Our practice should provide us with experiences that inform us about what we do all the time, but perhaps have never invested the attention to discover these truths. This way, we start to notice small things about our experience—-Is our breath more shallow when our boss is in the room? What does our energy feel like after a milkshake? What does our morning coffee taste like? Perhaps we notice a rise of energy when we are angry or a softening of the hips and thighs when we talk to our child? Maybe the opposite. There is no wrong or right. We just notice.
Enjoy your practice. Be safe and feel good. Really GOOD.