This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Katie West. Katie is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s 200 hour yoga teacher training program and a student in our advanced teacher training program. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of us have been conditioned to believe that “feeling” is a sign of physical or emotional weakness. Our culture has conditioned us to put people who elicit feelings of sadness, anxiety, or pain into a category of being “weak,” projecting a negative self-image and association with these feelings onto those who endure them. In reality, physical, mental and emotional conflicts can actually give you strength. When you can recognize, accept and control them, you will gain more power and clarity about yourself and the world around you than you ever thought possible.
Growing up, I was conditioned to look at pain as a weakness and to always push through it. Like everyone else, athletes have a pain threshold. Most hover just below it, where the body is screaming at you, telling you not to go any farther and you quiet it just enough to push through your practice, game or day. The problem is, once you have gone over that threshold, it is incredibly difficult to get your body back to “normal.” I broke my pain threshold, multiple times. I created injury on top of injury, until muscular and structural issues within my own body literally stopped me in my tracks.
Discouragement, pain pills and anti-inflammatories were thrown at me from all angles, providing me with zero resolution, only masking my pain and shoving me farther into the depths of my mind. When you are in physical pain, your mind and emotions suffer as well, causing depression, anxiety, negative thinking and poor sleep quality. These conflicts are normal, but no one tells you this. I’d like to invite you to embrace this. Our bodies tell the story of our lives. Learn to empower that story. No matter how tragic or lost you may feel it is, it is beautiful and unique to you. Make your “weaknesses” your strength. It is a long journey that requires perseverance. When I started, I was still attached to my negative conditioning of pain. I didn’t want to talk about it; I just wanted to hide it.
You may receive discouragement, resulting in self-doubt and feelings of weakness. When that happens to me, I slow my thoughts down, quiet the mind, and think of all the positive things my pain has brought me. I think of how it defines me, and only I can define my Self. Yoga has provided me with a completely different outlook on life that yes, I have this mess of a body, but I have a choice. I can sit back and let my “weaknesses” overcome me, or I can embrace them, empower them. I chose the latter and I have let my “weak” body become my teacher and my strength, allowing me to pass my gift of yoga along to others through teaching and sharing what I have learned.
By embracing your “weaknesses,” you will learn to appreciate, love and hopefully share your story so that others can do the same, knowing they are not alone.
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!