Healing and working with your body takes time. Once you’ve been injured the time it takes depends on a large number of variables from nature to nurture. In a popular yoga book I read it recommended that someone with severe low back pain work on it maybe for 12 years. Upon reading that I found it ironic that most would just give up if told they could repair an injury but it might take that long. In a culture that holds up youth, speed and instant gratification in the highest esteem it’s hard to put bodywork or yoga in perspective.
When a client is in pain my heart goes out to them. I’ve been in pain physically and otherwise more often than I care to recount but I’ve always come through and made it out on the other side. The value in ongoing bodywork or yoga isn’t that you’ll be pain free but that the pain you have you’ll work on for yourself and you’ll have a helping hand in the form of a massage therapist.
If you go to a medical doctor with pain you’ll get a variety of treatments from pain medication, physical therapy or surgery. All of those work with bodywork and yoga. The prime difference in my mind is that you go to the doctor once you’ve gotten sick, you go to the massage therapist and yoga instructor to stay well and hopefully not get sick to begin with. Everyone gets sick enough to see a doctor eventually, I didn’t go to a yoga class when I needed a root canal after all.
For years I’ve had issues with my neck and upper back due to the whiplash that led me into massage therapy to begin with. Now I do have what feels like the beginning of arthritis in the facet joints in that area but I developed low back pain several years ago. It comes and goes periodically and instead of being angry that I was aging or in this pain, I relished the opportunity to explore a new area of my body with a certain learned zeal. I don’t like pain, I like learning and exploration.
So, I work with and on my own body and those of clients. When clients comment that I always seem to know where to press or where the pain is coming from they don’t often realize it’s because I’ve pressed, kneaded, pulled, stretched, contorted and breathed into every area of my body. I know where it’s at because I’ve felt it. After all, if you cannot heal yourself, how can you work to help heal others?
Continually we must remind ourselves to keep working against all perceived obstacles. Those after all are where all of the learning comes from. In yoga or bodywork you press or stretch gently at first and find what your limits are. While sitting on the edge you breathe. As you continue it slowly allows the body to change and your nervous system wakes up. This isn’t a doctor speaking, just a yoga teacher trying to use english to explain the union of lumbar to hip that happens in triangle pose.
Your yoga, your bodywork will be different than mine because your being, your self is different than mine. Your timetable for healing isn’t mine either. I always hope for a quick, pain free recovery but that just isn’t always the case. I can tell you the speed of your recovery from most injuries is proportional to the amount of time you spend working on it. More inputs lead to more outputs.
Practicing yoga regularly you learn to sit, to meditate, sometimes in discomfort. All yoga poses are not easy after all. You learn to recognize the difference between pain and discomfort. Practicing I often find myself in a pose that’s not quite comfortable but rarely do I ever have to stop all together due to pain. Pain says stop. Intensity says pay attention, paying attention is exactly what allows your nervous system to focus on your lumbar spine and give it the structural integration and healing it needs.
Healing may not come quickly but it’s worth any price. Fortunately part of it comes for regular $10 yoga classes and Thai Yoga Massage for $70 a session. I think it’s a small price to pay for education and a gateway to work with your own healing. I can never promise a time table on healing, there are too many variables to work out and life happens to us as much as we create it in the moment. I do know that the more you focus on getting better with laser like precision, the more rapidly it will occur and the longer it will stay when it does. It’s not always easy, it may be one of the most difficult challenges in your life, but the amount of pain you experience is proportional to the amount of wisdom you’ll have once you’ve conquered that obstacle.