Insights to pain, the power of our thoughts and yoga therapy

This month, I am back to training yoga therapists, with the assistance of three of our senior teachers (Julianne Hutchcraft, Kelly Crowe and Heather Rama) in a beautiful sacred space not far from Kansas City, LifePoint Yoga Center.  The Midwest is so beautiful in the spring, especially out away from town. One of my greatest gifts of this life, is teaching yoga teachers how to be yoga therapists, and bearing witness to their evolution not only as yoga therapist, but as human beings. 

As a group today we discussed how many come to yoga therapy because of chronic pain. The concept of pain varies across cultures, ethnic groups and genders. Do we choose to feel pain? Is it a consequence of circumstance? Is it something that just happens? Julianne Hutchcraft, one of our soon to be IIYS yoga therapy graduates, introduced a video by Lorimer Mosley at the Pain Revolution Conference, Australia in April 2017 that addresses these questions with research to back up their findings. It is a must watch: 

The Pain Revolution

Now that you have a new or renewed understanding of pain, what do you think of it? In yoga, specifically the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 2.33 my simplified interpretation is: When disturbed by negative thoughts, cultivate the opposite mental attitude (Vitarka-badhane pratipaksha-bhavanam). In Western medicine and the social sciences, this process is known as cognitive reframing or reappraisal. Kevin Ochsner who studies the neuroscience of reappraisal at Columbia University states, “Our emotional responses ultimately flow out of our appraisals of the world, and if we can shift those appraisals, we shift our emotional responses.” Reappraisal basically means consciously choosing how you perceive any situation, which has an impact on the kind of emotions that will emerge from it.

The implications of that proposition are huge. Our emotions form out of our perceptions of the our environment, and if that perception is reframed, our emotions to that perception follows. Try that on for a moment. How would you feel if you never said another bad thing about our President or Nancy Pelossi and instead chose to offer up a prayer of guidance and peace? If everyone participated in that thought process it would sure change our Facebook feeds. 

Here is another one. You are driving to work and someone cuts in front of you. Instead of yelling, maybe calling a name or flipping your fav finger sign which is probably not sign language for I love you… choose to slow down and keep listening to your audio book or singing to your music? 

How about getting fired from work? Could you choose to see it as an opportunity to really do something you love and are passionate about? Something that could bring you great joy?

We, as yoga therapists, do not promise to take your pain away. What we do is help you discover and implement lifestyle strategies that bring you into balance, creating vitality and happiness, using our knowledge from the sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda.

If I have your interest — check out some of the resources below and stay tuned for the next blog — dealing with posture problems and the breath.


Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long by David Rock

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali : With Respect and Love by Mukunda Stiles

Carolyn Myss .. Choices part 2

Abraham-Hicks: Don’t get lost in the diagnosis, the medicine, or in the statistics about what somebody else did about it. If you don’t feel good, it’s because you’re not thinking in a way that allows the Energy to flow. You could just get really, really mad at someone you love and make every muscle in your body stiff. And you would ask,”Why does my body feel this way?” And we say, because you’ve had a Vibrational tug-of-war going on…Stop looking for anything other than your mental and emotional state of being as answers to why you feel how you feel in your body. It is all Vibrational – no exception! And when you get that, then it doesn’t matter what diagnosis has been given to you – it doesn’t matter – it’s temporary.