Resilience: Pain as a Catalyst for Growth

BY BETH BLAKE, RYT
PHOTOS BY DEBBY SIEGEL

Eckhart Tolle described the pain body in his 1994 New York Times bestseller The Power of Now as accumulated pain and a “negative energy field that occupies our bodies and minds.” He tells us “every emotional pain that you experience leaves behind a residue of pain that lives on in you.” Yoga can help. The potent healing powers of yoga can enable students to open up, release old wounds and allow healing to begin by directing minds inward. By asking our bodies to hold a yoga pose that requires balancing on one foot and possibly the fingertips of one hand, we are not leaving it much access to simultaneously stress over outside events. Your mind, unable to think two thoughts at the same time, will not be ruminating over past or future. With a consistent yoga practice, you can learn to control the mind and then release suppressed emotions.

 

Some yoga poses are helpful. Through hip openers, backbends, and inversions you can journey toward inner peace. Hips and hearts are warehouses for stored emotions to collect. Opening them can bring forth much growth and release. While Inversions are perfect for flipping your perspective, leading you to look at life and situations differently.

 

We all have pain. Yoga teachers too. We recently visited with a friend and yoga teacher who volunteered to share her pain perspective, and how yoga assists her in transforming pain into growth.  Beth Blake writes:

 

like the rainbow
after the rain
joy will reveal itself
after sorrow
— rupi kaur, the sun and her flowers
Before I started practicing yoga, I intentionally closed off from the world in an attempt to protect myself from experiencing emotional pain. I am deeply impacted by the interaction that I have with others — which sometimes leads to difficult feelings. 
Rejection has been one of my biggest fears. Isolating myself was my way of preventing wounds from happening in the first place, or so I thought.
Over time, I came to realize this mindset/behavior only resulted in more suffering. Pain cannot be avoided. By avoiding, I was also creating. 
I was drawn to the practice of yoga [translated from Sanskrit to English as union, unite, yoke, connect] almost a decade ago for the emotional and mental benefits. 
During my first Kundalini yoga class specifically, I witnessed my pain [fear] alchemize into love [trust]  — a love I created through my own effort/awareness/breath. My consciousness and heart broke open, expanding tenfold. It was one of [if not] the most pivotal moments in my life. 
Moving energy from the lower chakras into the heart space [Anahata chakra], it became very clear my yoga journey wasn’t just all about me anymore. Almost immediately, I remember asking myself “how can I be of service or benefit to others?” In that moment, I realized my life purpose was to help others heal themselves, in the way I was healing myself.  
The wounds I have experienced were necessary to feel drawn to lead myself and others toward the light. It oriented me toward my path and tapped me into a deep reservoir of internal strength which over time has grown more powerful than I could have ever previously imagined. There is so much wisdom and beauty to be gained in dark moments.  
I feel pain daily [in fact, as I am writing now.] Its intensity varies. I understand now that it is not permanent, as with any feeling state. If I find stillness, close my eyes, breathe deeply and place my hands to my heart — instead of trying to escape — the discomfort will inevitably transmute into something else. There will be a bliss proportionate to the hurt. 

Beth Blake, RYT: Beth quietly started practicing yoga in 2009 as a form of solace, seeking the mental & emotional benefits. It quickly became an integral part of her daily life.From 2013-2014, she earned her Hatha & Kundalini teaching certifications through Semperviva Yoga while residing in Kitsilano, Vancouver, British Columbia. 

Find a restorative or slow flow class with Beth at Shanti Yoga or Yoga Six Des Peres. She is also guiding Awakening the Heart Chakra – a sequence of Kundalini kriyas aimed at opening your energetic heart center (anahata chakra) on Feb 17, 1-2:30pm at Shanti in Maplewood. Kriyas are exercises that utilize breath/movement/mantra/mudra designed to produce a specific outcome (in this case, opening the heart.) Opening the energetic heart center allows you to accept that all is as it should be and to experience harmonious relationships.

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