Q: What does it take to diminish intense pain?
A: Intense, Frequent, healing partnerships
Intense pain can be physical pain, emotional pain or both. In either case, you need a team to support you. Whether this is an ongoing issue, or you’re suddenly hit with something injurious either physically or emotionally, you need a village of medicine peeps to help you out. Pardon me, but fuck all this “I’m independent and don’t need anyone” crap! That’s a giant pile of steaming poo! And you’ll get stuck in the giant pil-o-poo if you don’t get moving and ask for HELP!!! We are here to help each other, and that’s about all. Anyway….
I’ve recently gone through some emotionally intense, excruciatingly painful experiences. I’m still riding the waves of up and down, better to not so great to “wow” I can’t believe I feel this good considering. It’s forced me to make major changes, explore my strengths, gather good friends, seek out practitioners to help me find my balance, and stay tuned into my body, because my mind sure it’s being all that helpful at times. I’ve recently enrolled in a year long course called “Living in the Truth of the Present Moment” another level of support, helping me work on my thought patterns.
There are so many resources available, each person has a different way to heal, a path that works for them. Tuning into what works for you is kind of intuitive, you’ll find books that resonate (and those that don’t) friends that listen/friends that want to tell you what to do, family members who are/aren’t so helpful. Nature, pets, movement and other partnerships are especially important in order to heal.
Finding practitioners/partners who will assist you in healing yourself, rather than practitioners who want you to rely on them, will show up in ways that will seem very easy and perhaps coincidental. This will happen – it happened to me – a seasoned cynic – I got something in the mail for a series of 3 pranic healing sessions 2 day’s after the “domestic shit storm” hit and my world was turned upside down.
For me – pranic healing, acupuncture, cranial sacral, somatic therapy, new friends/old friends, books, my yoga practice, yoga students, chanting and even kindhearted strangers have assisted in my healing process.
At first daily support is needed – it can be bath’s, talking to friends/family, making appointments etc. The first month is critical; you need intense healing, intense sessions, and lots of support to move forward, to get through. You may need more, but give yourself at least one month – time/money will be needed.
Once a week sessions are not enough, you are in crisis, you need to honor your self by spending the time and money needed to move you toward balance, call in all your resources. You’ll probably need more than a month, but at least give yourself this at minimum.
Expense is an issue, but most people spend well over $300+ a month “Health Care” and get nothing in return. Do the math on wellness vs. money in the bank….your health and wellbeing doesn’t have a price tag. I’m saying every penny you spend up front will be an investment in your long-term medical cost, and your long-term happiness (again, no monetary value can be placed on that). The more proactive you are with your health, your body, then you are lowering your over all cost of health care likely by 10’s of thousands of dollars.
One thing became very clear to me regarding money – everything that has true meaning/value in your life has no monetary value at all. I knew this intellectually, now I know it experientially, it's a different level of understanding. I know that spending money on healing IS all that matters when you are in intense pain. You can’t function; you can’t live life if you are out of whack.
So, what is your sanity worth? $800 $1000?
You could spend 5/10K at the emergency room and have nothing but a few stitches and a couple Tylenol after getting in a car accident because you were so loopy from no sleep and depression. Take your pick…
If you are a mom, you can consider what you are teaching your kids. Do you want them to learn self-care?
Take one month – do intense sessions – 2 times a week if you want rapid progress. Invest in your healing.
Healing is helped along when you work with practitioners/partners whose goal is to stimulate your healing capacity. Run away from those who claim to be ‘healers”, nobody is really a healer; there are only those who can help YOUR healing process along.
You are the healer, by choosing to get the support you need, you are healing yourself. You are empowered. You are worth every penny you spend, actually 1000’s of times over, you are worth it.
Where you put your awareness and energy is where healing manifests. Your body knows balance, practitioners help you find that.
From yoga’s perspective, or from an Ayurveda perspective, you are meant to be happy and in balance with nature. Your job, as a human being is to know your self as a manifestation of the divine. Each person who you come into contact with is helping you on your journey, pointing you to THAT which is you = divine. Meaning, pointing you to notice, who you really are, that you are precious, you are totally worth taking care of and being taken care of by your own choices. We all want to you to see your own divinity, even if you forget again and again.
With love and gratitude,
Jagadambe = Janis Marie Fish
I’m healthy, fit and active but I have terrible back pain once in awhile.
Can yoga help? Is there a pose I can do for my back?
It totally sucks to have back pain. If it’s really bad you feel like you can’t do much of anything, much less the things that you normally do to stay fit and healthy. I'm not talking about the kind of pain where you feel like you should be in a body cast, or on a scale of 1 to 10 you are a 8 or higher. I’m talking about a garden variety pain/ache be it chronic, or something that flares up on occasion, like when you try to pick up your 80 lb lab to put in the tub for a bath.
When you have back pain you realize just how much you rely on a healthy, strong back just to do daily life stuff. You can’t run, bike, garden, or sometimes even brushing your teeth and taking a shower can be a challenge. Maybe you are used to taking care of everyone else, and now you have to rely on others to help out more.
A very, very brief rant about the spine:
The spine is the first structure to develop in the womb, everything branches off from there, EVERYTHING. It’s important to know that your spinal health is key to a relatively pain free life. I’m not going to say “pain free” because that’s not realistic, but you can have less pain by taking care of your spinal health. From yoga’s perspective your spine (the center of your spine) is the conduit of consciousness. Which is one reason why there is such an emphasis on it.
Yoga can help, although a class may not be advisable until you are at place where your pain level is maybe a 5 or less. Not all yoga is the same, so a little asking around plus some research to find out what may work for you.
A couple weeks ago I was talking to a neighbor, who had recently tweaked her back while babysitting her grandkids. Now my dear neighbor is one extremely dynamic, active grandparent/CEO/runner/cyclist/go-getter kind of a super woman who may even have special powers for all I know. She was experiencing back pain for the first time in her entire adult life. At 60 + years, having had no back pain previously is extremely rare. Anyway, back to her tweaked back – she tried a few things ice etc. but wanted a quicker recovery. She asked me if there were some poses she could to that would help, at which point we booked a series of sessions to get her rocking on her recovery.
The sessions consisted of Yoga Therapy – a more passive form of yoga – and private instruction to get her started on a home practice. The first few sessions were passive, I had her on the floor with some propping so she was comfortable, she was in too much pain to do poses. Then, after a few sessions some healing had ensued, we went over a “bed yoga” practice. Bed Yoga takes 15 minutes and is generally 3 poses that are very simple yet effective at helping the muscles in your spine release.
Of course, I won’t be able to teach you “Bed Yoga” here in this blog, but I can give you a few things you can try at home:
A few things you can do right now to help with back pain:
1. Breath – just bring your awareness to your breath. It’s best if you are on the floor and have your legs over a chair, or a couch. Simply notice you’re in breath, how your body expands when you breathe in, even notice where the breath is moving inside your body. Then on the exhale, just allow your body to soften and sink heaver into the floor. You can become aware of what is happening internally, as you empty your body of air. Although we think of the breath of just entering the lungs, you may have a different experience of where your breath is moving. There are countless breathing practices, but the simplicity of being aware of your breath helps you relax.
2. Shavasana – this is the pose of doing nothing, or corpse pose. You lay on the floor/bed with your legs over a couch or chair or a few pillows. Supporting your legs will lengthen your low back a little and most of your spine (other than your waist) will be supported by the floor/bed. Best to do on a carpeted floor, a bed can be a little too soft, but it will do if that’s works for you.
3. Legs up the Wall – Put both legs up the wall and scoot away at least a foot or more so that your legs are straight (no bend in the knees) and you don’t have to stiffen your legs to straighten them. You may have to scoot away more than a foot to get the angle that works best for your body. To scoot away slide your feet down the wall & push, keep your head on the floor. You may need a blanket under your head so your chin isn’t jutting out. Feet are just an inch or so apart & your heels are resting on the wall. Do nothing, just let the weight of your legs lean into the wall and into your hips, your lower back/sacrum will start to relax and widen. You can breath easy and naturally. Stay there for 5 to 7 minutes.
4. The Wedge Back Support Cushion on Amazon 24.95 – you can take them with you anywhere you go, in the car, work, and home, anywhere.
Pain can be the great motivator – you learn a ton from being in pain. You have to slow down and do things with more awareness. You have to ask for help (a big one, especially for women). You get to spend more time taking care of YOU. There’s an opportunity to meet some terrific practitioners too, if you go that route.
If you have intense pain that has been going on for a long period of time, you will need to do intense healing sessions for at least one-month minimum. I’ll try to explain using the least amount of verbiage…
Your sessions need to be timed close enough together so that you are not backsliding, you are improving dramatically each time you come and not doing the 2 steps forward, 2 steps back thing. The idea is that you open, open, open, maybe shut down a little bit, then your sessions are timed so that even if you do shut back down a little you will be opened back up right away because your body “remembers” what it feels to be more open/soft/relaxed/balanced.
I raise my glass to a healthy, happy spine! Cheers!
Janis M Desmond RYT500, CSYT
My shoulder is killing me, I’ve tried a million different things to remedy the situation, but nothing is helping. Are there poses I can do for my shoulder?
The short answer = no
There is a BUT in there – where in life would we be without buts?….
Dieting for spot reduction doesn’t work – when you diet, you lose weight throughout your entire body.
Spot yoga, or working with a specific body part isn’t going to get you what you ultimately want, which is less pain/more mobility etc. What I’ve learned about pain from my own experience is that being in pain takes you into what one teacher I study with calls ‘Animal Realm”. Instinctively we want to curl up in a ball until it all goes away.
If we are in that Animal Realm of comfort and security, we want to know how and why you are in pain, and how to get out of pain. I’ll just address one aspect = stand-point of the physical body - what can you do in order to get changes in what is going on with your shoulder? Your spine is the key, the whole spine is where there are tensions held that are affecting your shoulder, and you may even have other aches and pains going on too. The news is, you can’t get permanent changes in the upper spine, until you have an open/released tension starting at the tailbone. In other words, it’s all connected.
Starting at the tailbone – that’s right – your tail is tucked and tight, which affects EVERYTHING! More details on that in another article – so tailbone tucked, then the rest of the spinal column has to compensate & your shoulders end up being up by your ears because your rib cage is compressed.
A personal story about pain:
At one point, I was in so much pain I couldn’t do any yoga asana, was even hard to do a breathing practice. Hard not to focus on the pain & just wish it away. Anyway, my leg and hip were so messed up I had to use 2 hands to lift my left leg out of the car, and to go up steps I had to do one step at a time. I actually had no idea how it came on; there wasn’t a fall or anything specific that I did to “cause” this issue. I tried a bunch of methods for treatment – chiropractic, allopathic, acupuncture and even had an appointment for an OD scheduled (very, very pricey…)
By doing all the appointments I’d done, I’d ruled out any structural damage and so at this point you have to take some sort of action to figure out what will work for you. I’m sure you’ve already done the background work, ruling out any medical issue before trying alternatives.
All clear on medical issues - my friend and fellow yoga teacher Belle suggested I contact our teacher (Rama Berch/Nirmalananda) to see if she had any suggestions. She swiftly answered my email, asked a question or two and responded with a couple suggestions:
1. Keep taking the anti-inflams prescribed by the MD
2. Do Overlap Healing Embodyment Yoga Therapy sessions with Belle – meaning doing several sessions in a row, then backing off slowly. (Embodyment sessions are a form of Yoga Therapy - in very basic terms Embodyment Therapy is passive for the client, a hands on healing modality that releases tension held in the muscles connected to the tailbone & sacrum).
I did 2 sessions with Belle and by the 3rd session (3 days in a row) I was about 70/80% better and could do my practice. It was basically the magic bullet.
You may think the point of this article is to do Embodyment Overlap Healing, which is really quite effective, but that’s not the point. I needed to ask for help; because I was in so much pain I couldn’t find my way.
It’s comforting to know that asking for help is not only good for you, it is also a wonderful opportunity for those who care for you to show you they want to support you. It’s really a connection, a way to show love beyond words – a beautiful expression of serving for the sake of serving. You can even say that the divine is serving the divine.
So what about my damned shoulder – jeez…
Ok, Ok, I’m getting to that. I’ll give you a few things you can do to get a taste of what Svaroopa Yoga is. Which is basically softening into yoga poses that are designed to reach into specific parts of your body.
Let’s say you aren’t coming to class, you don’t have a home practice & there isn’t a Svaroopa teacher in your area. OR, you just want to test drive this idea of softening into angles…
A few things you can try:
1. Get a chair (or use a couch) – get down on the floor and put your lower legs on the chair. This will lengthen your back & a good deal of your spine will be resting on the floor. Then, if your chin is higher than your forehead – put a folded blanket under the back of your head, propping enough so that your chin and forehead are level. Hands rest on the floor palms up, or bend your elbows & place hands on either side of your belly button. This simple technique will bring a little weight into your sacrum, and may help relieve the pain.
2. Close your eyes and just hang out for a few minutes – scan your body, start at your feet and move up slowly, just noticing your whole body. In a class setting you would do this as I guide you through your body = guided awareness. Listen to your body, softening the places that you can.
3. If you feel tension in certain places, send the breath there and say ‘soften’. Keep sending the breath, natural/easy breathing, not forced – easy and soft.
4. Stay on the floor for at least 5 or 10 minutes & just let yourself enjoy doing the simple task of noticing your body.
Your shoulder is sending you a message – your body is asking you to listen. Asking for help is a beautiful thing, that’s what we are here for – to help each other get through this thing called life (Prince).
I recently had a client with a shoulder issue who also had numbness in her hand. After doing a Private Instruction session with her, teaching her 3 poses to do at home, she no longer had numbness in her hand. This wasn’t because she did anything for her hand, she was learning how to release tension in the muscles connected to her spine.
The release happens not as a result of stretching, pulling, heroic efforts to perform Down Dog or Plank pose, but by simply softening into supported angles of yoga poses and letting the tension unravel.
Ready to unravel and decompress? Ready to try a Whole Body approach?