Yesterday I attended a wonderful workshop titled Fearless Backbends, lead by Ohio-based Ashtanga teacher Taylor Hunt (http://www.taylorhuntyoga.com/)
Taylor taught us many magical adjustments and set straight many confusions about internal and external arm rotations. And for this I (and my students) will be forever grateful.
But there was also a bit of wisdom he imparted that was less specific to backbends and more broadly applicable to any kind of regular work or practice. He said, "it doesn't have to hurt."
This idea, as Taylor presented it was about more than rotating the arms to create room across the shoulders, thus relieving literal pains in the neck. Instead, he was referring to fixed ideas we tell ourselves that then become our reality. If we tell ourselves, "well, backbends just hurt;" or, "well, x is just supposed to be unpleasant," this story rules our experience.
In other words, when we tell stories like this about our work, we stop seeking ways to alleviate the pain. Let alone seeking pleasure in the practice.
It's a simple idea, but one that resonated. "It doesn't have to hurt."
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