When I first started doing yoga, particularly Ashtanga, I remember thinking that I only needed to last five breaths for each pose. That helped me get through the challenging 90 minute practices. Who knew that sixteen years later, I would carry that thinking with me in my day to day. As I was doing yoga the other day, I realized that yoga helped me differentiate pain and discomfort.
We humans do not want to feel discomfort much less pain. Our brains aren’t so great at telling the difference between the two. This can be a result of trauma that makes us hyper aware of any sort of discomfort. The wonderful thing is we can train our brains to distinguish the two.
It takes practice to understand what is actually painful and what is uncomfortable. A yoga pose can certainly be painful, especially when done incorrectly; however, most of the time, when we practice yoga, that negative thing we feel is discomfort.
Our brain’s defaulting to flight or fight mode makes us immediate elevate discomfort to pain. Taking our brains out of fight or flight mode requires building that resiliency to have the inner space and awareness to notice what we are actually feeling. We can do that by taking it five breaths at a time.