Have you ever heard this phrase in class? I have been practicing Bikram Yoga for almost 14 years and have heard it numerous times. I do not think that I understood or could even process the idea for the first 10 years of my practice.
It was probably when I heard Emmy Cleaves, Senior Bikram Yoga Instructor, lecture about pain at my 2012 Bikram Yoga Teacher Training program that it raised an awareness within myself. As she so eloquently talked, she challenged us to learn the difference between discomfort and pain.
Discomfort is the feeling within ourselves that makes us want to run from it. It can show up in our practice as stopping for a water break, wiping the sweat off our body, moving around unnecessarily on our yoga mat or just wanting to leave the room. Any activity that prevents us from experiencing stillness.
Pain, on the other hand, is a sharp shooting energy source that will take our breathe away. We immediately need to stop and catch our breathe. The growth opportunity for us is to learning to discern between discomfort and pain. We need to learn to tolerate and one day enjoy discomfort while staying away from pain.
I once asked International Yoga Champion, Zeb Homison, about his training regime. I have always admired the peace and stillness that these practitioners demonstrate each time they practice. He told me this, ” The stillness comes from learning to move through the discomfort instead of giving up.”
His comment made me reflect on my own practice. How many times have I given into discomfort and come out of a posture early? I then asked myself, I wonder what would happen if I learn to work through the discomfort instead of just giving up?
I have been practicing this new thinking for the past year. I have made progress toward “enjoying” the discomfort, yet still revert back to my old behaviors occasionally. And when I do, I know that I am still “working towards the direction of my intention”. That alone gives me peace.
Bring on the discomfort! I’m ready!
How about you? Are you ready to begin “enjoying the discomfort” of your practice? We’d love to hear your story…