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Internal inquiry is at the heart of a yoga philosophy. Yoga, especially those teachings derived from the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, centers on the idea of svadhyaya. 

Svadhyaya means self-study. The philosophical basis for yoga is self-reflection and self-responsibility, meaning that the yogi centers reflection as they sort through the troubles in their life. Yoga philosophy is based on the idea that as we see more clearly, and understand ourselves more thoroughly, we are better equipped to avoid troubles in the future, ease our troubles in the present, and make peace with our troubles in the past. 

I’m currently dealing with annoying neck & shoulder pain. It’s a chronic issue that comes and goes and my usual methods of coping (acupuncture, therapeutic massage, yoga, etc.) are not offering much relief. My tendency is to panic and assume the worst…..the pain will never end, I’m going to feel this way forever. Things get very dark, very quick. It’s not a good place to be.

Some yoga studios advertise “good vibes only.” However, in yoga philosophy, pain is an assumed component of your experience, which makes sense, we all experience pain in some form or fashion. Instead of centering this pain as the focal point of our thinking, yoga encourages us to focus on our reaction and our relationship to our own suffering. From that study of self, we can create practical support and solutions for ourselves.

I’m curious, when you experience pain, whether physical, emotional or spiritual, what do you do to help yourself? 

I continue to develop my toolbox of self-compassion as I relate to my physical pain. Stillness and silence provide me opportunities to consider how I want to relate to my pain. Messages of love and compassion counter the doom and gloom my mind wants to jump to. A hot bath and self-massage may not be the magic cure I wish they were, but they do provide soothing comfort. Intuitively I’m learning when I should move and when I should rest. Our bodies are complex and mysterious. Let’s take the time to listen as they speak to us.  

Do you have a practice, a pose, or a meditation that you rely on when you’re not well? Let me know!

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