Clean pain, dirty pain

It’s almost March of 2022! You’ve made it this far! Woooo!!

For some odd reason, the term, “army crawl,” popped into my head this morning. Odder still, it felt like the perfect way to describe how moving through the past two years has been like: crawling on all fours, with great exertion and stealth, trying to avoid an enemy attack (e.g. a virus, eep!).

I’m looking forward to the warmth of spring, but before it arrives, I think it’s worth pausing to reflect on what has passed. We’ve all been through a lot.

In his book, My Grandmother’s Hands, Resmaa Manakem explains how emotional pain can be “clean” or “dirty.” When we avoid or silence our suffering, it becomes dirty pain. This unwillingness to address what we’re going through creates more pain – and we repeat the harmful patterns of the past.

In contrast, when we turn towards our suffering in the moment, it can be clean pain. We recognize it, move through it, and grow from it. We can reduce future harm. It doesn’t fester into dirty pain.

Clean pain is still pain, so it is bound to be uncomfortable at times. Thus it is important to have a structure in which to do this kind of work. A yoga practice can certainly be that, but there are many ways – may we all find what works best for us.

Take good care,

Yoga for the brokenhearted

Pursuing the practice of yoga has given me many things, and one of these things has been a broken heart.

Let me explain.

Yoga is about cultivating awareness of ALL things, without discrimination. So when we open ourselves to the ways of the world, we experience both the joy and the sorrow. We see the generosity and the greed; both intelligence and idiocy; the caring and the apathy.

Yoga means resolving to bear witness to the way we both help, and harm, eachother. In the easy times, we can just drink it all in and bask in the glow! In the hard times, it requires greater determination: how do we keep showing up? How do we keep our hearts from breaking?

If we truly engage in this complicated and messy world, our hearts will break. It is inevitable. We must let them break. We have to let the world in.

So yoga didn’t break my heart, per se – it helped me realize it was already broken.

Before you start sending me referrals to therapists, hold on: it gets better.

Once we realize the state of things, only then can we do something about it. Yoga gives us the tools to mend our hearts. It gives us the chance to practise starting again, with compassion and curiosity. Every breath can be a fresh moment, a fresh start. It is a practice of forgiveness.

If we think others are incorrigible, how does that affect the way we treat ourselves?

Let’s not give up on ourselves. Let’s take care of our broken hearts, together.

Space and grace: a 70-minute Vinyasa flow yoga practice.

We have made a NEW yoga practice up on YouTube! Enjoy a Vinyasa flow practice that focuses on building strength and mobility, especially in the hips and shoulders. May the agility we create in our physical bodies inspire us to become agile in our minds and hearts.

There are modifications offered for the various postures in this practice; adjust as you see fit in order to work with how you are feeling. Take good care of yourself.

As the pandemic situation continues, let’s build patience, grit, and endurance as we navigate through uncertainty. The practice of yoga helps us reconnect with these aspects of ourselves, so that we can feel emboldened in our daily work and relationships – which is where the real practice of yoga is.

We give these practice videos freely; if you find value in this offering, and you are in a position to give, please consider donating by clicking the button below. Dana is the traditional practice of donation through which yoga teachers have received financial support – and is the way I am currently offering my teachings. Thank you in advance for your support.