Thursday, January 19, 2012

No Pain, No what?

I'm sure many of you have seen the recent article on the dangers of yoga. My boss made it a point to come tell me how yoga can hurt me because he knows how much I go to yoga class. We had a chance to discuss this over the weekend in Yoga Teacher Training and it got me thinking about a couple of things.

it's interesting to me that they're trying to demonstrate how yoga is dangerous by doing this pose COMPLETELY wrong. You're never supposed to turn your head in this position and any good yoga teacher will tell you that. 

But I digress - 

Back to my point. In fact, I probably need to back up fairly significantly to cover all of my thoughts. 

The Western World

Have you ever heard the phrase, "no pain, no gain"? I'm sure that you have. We watch shows like the Biggest Loser and you can see how quickly the group is ready to turn on the one person who isn't working hard enough. Runners always talk about pushing through injuries and ignoring the pain because if we recognize that pain, then we are weak. And weak means we have no value and we should be ashamed. 

No Fear
No Pain
Push Through

These are things that we have been told time and time again are the right ways to feel. 

When I first started working out, that's what I was told. Push through the pain, push through the fear, ignore yourself because you are weak and your weakness will bring you down. 

IT HAS TAKEN ME YEARS OF THERAPY to realize how unhealthy this thought process is. 

A woman ran a marathon while 9 months pregnant. That. is. absurd. 


I'm saying that we deserve to treat ourselves and our bodies with respect. When I put my hand on a stove and it starts to burn, I shouldn't go, Hey, no pain no gain, push through this pain. It's the same with my knee, my hip, my back, etc. When your knee is tweaked and you're limping around, you should not push through the pain. 

The best gift I can give myself is learning the difference between being uncomfortable while pushing myself, and my body telling me to stop because I am hurting it. What is my ultimate goal, to live a long, healthy life and how do I achieve that? My not damaging my body in a way that will affect me in my later years. Why tear up my knee so bad now that when I get old, I have to use a cane? 

The first person that ever introduced a healthy body viewpoint in my life (well, at least, that was a trainer) was Holly Di Giovine. She is very big on challenging ourselves but listening to our bodies and taking care of them. She emphasizes the importance of healthy nutrition, stretching, rolling, hydrating - doing the things that one needs to do in order to maintain a healthy mind and body. She showed me that you do not have to be a hero, ignoring yourself. 

So how does this all relate to the article? My point is this - in any physical activity, when my ego is involved, I will get hurt. In yoga, in running, in weight lifting, in swimming, in anything. When I decide that pushing myself is more important than learning correct form, I am going to get injured. 

Crossfit - 
full range of motion and form is more important than the weight you lift. If the person beside you benches 225, and you want that 225 even though you've never done more than 150, you're probably going to get hurt. If you don't, you're lucky. 

Running - 
if your knee hurts, but you know that you should be running a sub 24 5k, and you just push yourself as hard as possibly in spite of that knee pain, you're probably going to hurt yourself even more. 

Yoga - 
If you desire to get into a pose before you know how to properly do it, ahem cobra/plow/shoulder stand, you're going to get injured. 

Yoga is not about the body, but in the west, we think it is. It's about your health and doing what's best for your body, mind and spirit. Yoga means "yolk" to signify that union. 

So ultimately, the responsibility lies within yourself. If you have a teacher that tries to push you into a pose that you don't know - 
1) I would tell her/him
2) I would probably not go back to that class

The pose is never as important as the intention. You can always modify and still get the same benefit. 

I hope that we can unlearn what "healthy" means and retrain ourselves. 


  1. I had to smile when I saw your post today. I just posted about No Pain No Gain on my running blog just yesterday. You obviously went into Way more depth than I had time to do. But I totally Agree with you!!! People need to listen to their bodies and know the difference between good pain and bad pain. I enjoy the good pain.....the pain that helps you gain. The pain that stretches and strengthens. Not the "AHHHH I HAVE TO FINISH THIS OR ELSE" kind of pain when something is telling you to stop. But sometimes I think people are afraid to work up to things because they might be "Sore" after their first work out or two. It's all just a learning process. Strength doesn't come over night. It's a slow process and things have to be done right. Thanks so much for your post, I enjoyed it. And if you don't mind I will probably post a follow up on my blog and Link my readers to your blog for a more indepth reading of NO PAIN NO GAIN! Thanks Again. You Rock.

    1. I haven't caught up on my blog reading yet!!! I can't wait to read yours! I just started thinking about this when that article came out about yoga being bad and I thought, no it's not. Yoga isn't bad if the mindset is correct!!! Thank you for commenting!