In my second portion of the healing back pain through yoga articles I’d like to discuss how our mental state plays a role in healing back pain. If you haven’t read the first blog and need to catch up click HERE. It may seem along way from our back but there are many deep connections between the brain, mind, our consciousness, and the physically sensations we feel.
Our lives and our identity are made up of stories we have been taught or stories we have about ourselves. How often do we attach to stories of past injury, or bodily dysfunctions that may have come up in our lives? By attaching to these stories are we inhibiting ourselves from healing and writing a new more positive narrative on the direction of our life? These can be hard questions to ask but our metal outlook on physical wellbeing does have an impact on what we do and how we do it! I don’t want to advocate some new age mantra that you can materialize perfect health just by belief (I’ll leave that to Mr. Chopra) but attachment can leave one foot stuck in the mud of our once injured self. For example, doctors told me I would never play hockey, go skiing, lift heavy things, or do any of the activities so dear to my heart ever again. And, devastatingly, I was attached to this advice. My mind held on to the idea I couldn’t do the things I love and this was a death sentence, my life was over, as I knew it.
I had a high regard to medical professionals so why wouldn’t I listen to them! But once I started moving, breathing, stretching, and living my life again I quickly realized they were wrong. One night I braved the idea of skiing again (for the fear of god had been put into me that skiing would cripple my hopes of healing). Skiing actually loosened my muscles up and filled my lungs with crisp mountain air. My whole body pulsed with life and it relieved my backache. I was alive again! The list of don’t do’s that is offered to those suffering back pain rolls of the tongue so nicely. Don’t sleep on your stomach, don’t forward fold, don’t lift heavy things, don’t engage in vigorous activity, don’t don’t don’t. This advice leaves us very limited in what we can do and might create phobia each time we have to tie our shoelaces (yup that was me!). Of course a sudden change in my mindset didn’t instantly fix my spinal health and back pain but it gave me confidence to progress daily to become healthy again in order to live the fullest life. In my mind I become open to the idea of healing.
An injury is an event, it happens, then it is over and the body begins to heal. Attaching to the idea that we are permanently broken and injured can drown any positive goals of healing ourselves, or alleviating a condition. Through yoga practice we focus our mind on our body (through postures, breathing, and meditations) and bridge a connection that harmonizes the two into one (the yoking of yoga). When the body moves, stretches, engages and relaxes, the mind is focused on these happenings and becomes still, aware and present. When the mind quiets down we have a finer lens with which to consider our thoughts, habits, and the stories we tell about ourselves with less reaction. A yoga practitioner truly wakes up to the choices and decisions they make that affect their wellbeing. The heart of Yoga is not to harm ourselves (see Ahimsa), or others, so by being mentally present and awake we can decide for ourselves what choices, lifestyle, yoga postures, and mental outlook best supports our path to healing back pain. The mind plays an important role in helping us develop a personal yoga practice!
That is part 1 of my blog on Healing Back Pain through Yoga and you may be surprised that I didn’t talk much about the physical yoga or tell you what to do. I’m hoping to intrigue each of you, the reader, to look deep into yourselves and question the inner teacher that has a great wisdom around healing the body. It’s You!