You're Not You When You're in Pain


Have you ever met a couple where one of the partners is warm and likeable and the other is totally unapproachable?

The very first time I met my hosts for our retreat in Europe, a husband wife team, I was totally in love with the wife, and, well, the husband - not so much. She was bright, kind, and generous. He was withdrawn, unfriendly, even sour. I couldn’t understand what she saw in him.

Annually I led retreats at their center, and each year, it was the same. She was a dream to work with, and he, unpleasant and unsociable.

Then one year, I was told that he’d be the one picking me up from the train station when I arrived. I dreaded that car ride.

To my surprise, the man who picked me up was the same guy, but with a whole new personality. He was cheerful, funny, and energetic! This same man I had avoided in past years had transformed into a totally new character.

When I got to the retreat center, I couldn’t wait to ask his wife - “What happened to your husband - he’s like a different man!”

As if it was old news, she replied - “Oh, his doctor gave him some sort of oxygen injection in his back, and now he’s no longer in pain!

I have no idea what kind of treatment he had that was so miraculous, but what struck me as more fascinating is how his chronic pain had totally clouded his otherwise sunny self for so many years.

This Snickers commercial with Aretha Franklin is exactly what I’m talking about!

Since a large part of my work as a yoga teacher centers around helping people get out of pain through alignment and yoga therapeutics, of course I wished I had known sooner that he’d been in pain so I could have gotten him on the yoga mat to help!

When you consider this story, it’s astonishing how pain can make us unknowingly unpleasant and, worse yet, inflict our bad mood on our loved ones and co-workers on a daily basis.

Often times we get so used to the pain, that we don’t even know we’re in it. The first time I ever experienced pain in yoga was in my late 20’s. I was lowering into chatturanga lopsided.

Seeing this, my teacher bellowed from above, “Amy, do you have a problem with your wrist?”, Amazed that he noticed my suffering when I didn’t even know I had a problem, I stammered, “Yes.”

Every since that moment, I gave my vinyasa practice a rest for a time and dove deep into the world of alignment until I knew how to:

  1. Identify my pain and take it seriously
  2. Align my body anatomically in all yoga poses to prevent injury
  3. Help others do the same
  4. Go 3 inches deeper in every pose

It's my mission to make yoga's primary focus be on how we MOVE not just on how we POSE. What good are impressive looking poses if they do not support your body's longevity as you age?

And this is why I decided to devote a full day intensive to the topic of yoga and therapeutics at Yoga Journal LIVE in San Diego!