The language of yoga is Sanskrit and the Sanskrit word for pain is duhkha. Duhkha can be translated as pain, suffering, unhappiness, or discomfort.
The word yoga is classically defined by its root “yuj” which is to yoke; to unite or join, as in the union that forms the body/mind/spirit connection.
Because yoga addresses the whole of one’s being, it serves as a therapeutic tool for addressing different kinds of pain and the sources from which these types of pain are derived.
Physical pain takes on many forms and has the ability to transit the body. Pain can also take on the form of a hydra or even simultaneously occur in different parts of the body.
The first step in triaging pain is to honor the inextricable connection between the body and mind and the concatenation of processes that occur on the gross and more subtle energetic levels of our beings.
The trickle down effect of pain may hinder the ability to digest well, cause insomnia and other stressful imbalances such as anxiety and depression.
When you honor yourself, you become more open to the invitation to heal. This is a first, very necessary step to relieve yourself of suffering.
One such way to honor yourself is to create a positive affirmation. Creating a positive affirmation that can be written, recited silently or out loud, is supportive and helps build confidence in your ability to heal yourself and reach your goals.
CREATING A POSITIVE AFFIRMATION FOR HEALING & REACHING GOALS
It is important to create an affirmation you can recite with authenticity so that you can believe it. The potential for everything exists in the universe. Truly believing in yourself is necessary for the potential to manifest healing and reach goals.
In other words, if it is your intention to be able to run a marathon, but you have a broken leg that requires healing then, you would NOT create an affirmation such as, “I will run a marathon in one month” because it is not realistic.
Instead, you would start off with an affirmation that speaks to your broken leg healing expediently. It may sound something like, “My leg is getting stronger every day.” As time goes by, your affirmation may be amended to, “My leg feels better and I enjoy a brisk walk every day.” Then, imagine that your positive affirmation becomes, “My leg is feeling much better and this weekend I will run a 5k race.”
This transmutes into, “My leg is so much stronger now and I will run a half marathon in three months” and finally, “My leg is fully healed and I will reach my goal of running a marathon by the end of the year!”
STEPS TO CREATING YOUR POSITIVE AFFIRMATION
- Write your affirmation down three or more times.
- Sit quietly with eyes closed.
- Visualize your heart as an open door through which you send out your affirmation and through which the healing power of your affirmation is being sent back to you. This has a boomerang effect!
- With eyes closed, recite your affirmation three times out loud, whisper it three times, and say it to yourself silently three times.
- You can follow steps 1 through 4 every day, or multiple times per day.
YOGA POSTURES: ASANAS
Yoga postures (asanas) offer a solution for healing the physical body and create a pathway for emotions to be released from the tissues of the body.
Have you heard the saying, “Our issues are in our tissues?” Yoga postures heal the body by promoting strength, flexibility, and mobility. The needs of the physiology of the body are met when yoga postures encourage toning of the organs, detoxification, cleansing and clearing of the energy channels, and more.
Healing the body creates alignment with the mind and spirit. This is the expression of the interconnectedness that cultivates yoga within the framework of our beings. Try any or all of the poses in the following articles to get started on the path to healing and good health:
Physical pain can cause emotional pain when it triggers the memory of a traumatic experience. Conversely, the emotional pain of a traumatic experience can trigger cellular memories in the body that can cause physical pain to resurface. We have the pre-frontal cortex of the brain to thank for this. When there is a “glitch,” emotions can get stuck in this part of the brain.
For instance, if we are involved in a car accident and sustain injuries, we not only suffer from the physical pain of those injuries, we can also experience PTSD. This can result in fear of driving or flashbacks of the accident that wreak havoc on the nervous system.
The good news is that we are endowed with the ability to persevere and overcome the challenges that the stress of pain often presents. There are a multitude of yoga techniques that can serve us well. Some techniques are meditation (dhyāna) and breath work (pranayama), yoga nidra (yogic sleep), mudra (hand gestures) and mantra (recitation of sound) While these techniques may seem subtle at first, they have very profound effects.
Meditation is a multi-faceted practice. One of the many beautiful aspects of it is that anyone can do it, independent of any limitations that might impede one from performing any physical movement. Here are some resources to explore:
BREATH WORK: PRANAYAMA
The average person breathes without thinking about it. The ability to inhale and exhale freely is often overlooked. Yet, without the breathe, we cease to exist.
When we perform pranayama, we practice deliberate control of the breath in various ways. Some types of pranayama are simple and others are complex.
Learning pranayama should never be rushed. Practicing too much pranayama too soon creates anxiety and exhaustion. There are also precautions and contraindications for certain types of pranayama. Always consult with a professional.
Nadis Shodhana is a top pranayama for anxiety. There are no known contraindications. However, those who suffer from a seizure disorder should practice under the guidance of a qualified professional and build up slowly to longer durations of practice.
YOGIC SLEEP: YOGA NIDRA
Yoga nidra is a wonderful tool for pain and trauma. With yoga nidra, we are able to address how we react to our emotions and it helps us self-regulate by allowing us to tap into our intrinsic ability to self-soothe and cultivate an oasis of calm for the nervous system.
Yoga nidra is scripted for various subject matter. For example, if you suffer from an imbalance that causes anxiety/ungrounded feelings, choose a script that keeps you tethered to the earth!
HAND GESTURES: MUDRA
Mudras are gestures most often made with the hands. There are also postures that entail the use of the entire body, that are considered mudras.
Mudras are healing and increase awareness and concentration. They are known as anupanas (carriers) as they “drive” the breath work, yoga posture, meditation or mantra into the body.
Gertrude Hirschi is an authority on mudra. Her book, Mudra: Yoga in Your Hands, is a wonderful resource with an abundance of information, pictures of mudras, directions, and positive affirmations.
RECITATION OF SOUND (CHANTING): MANTRA
Ayurveda calls mantra “pranacharya”. This is the highest form of healing. Sound is made of vibration and so are we! This makes mantra a serendipitous synergy of sound!
Again, the language of yoga is Sanskrit. When we speak the Sanskrit language, we vibrate sound from five areas—the back of the oral cavity (gutturally), the soft palate, the hard palate, lips, and teeth.
These vibrations inform us on a cellular level, to increase the intelligence of our psychology and physiology.
On an emotional level, mantra is very beneficial for clearing the congestion associated with heaviness of the heart when we are depressed, sad, or grieving the loss of a loved one.
If you embark on the use of Sanskrit mantras take care to pronounce the words correctly for maximum benefit. This is not to say that one must only use Sanskrit mantras for sound recitation. Use a language that you are comfortable with and if you find that a specific prayer, poem or, your own affirmation brings you comfort, then by all means, work with that.
There are times when the transliteration of a mantra can be confusing or vague. Suffice it to say that the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra is a powerful healing mantra. It is used for healing, protection (protection from illness, natural disasters, and negative energy), and for helping to ensure a smooth transition for those who will not recover from illness.