Today in my karma yoga class for new yogis with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) we worked around finding freedom in discomfort. As always, being mindful of the breath and staying with the breath – all by itself – took us through the class and allowed us to dive into the concept that we were exploring.
In my own practice my eyes only really, REALLY opened to the benefits of staying consistently with the breath during my pregnancy, with the big test (of course) being: giving birth.
The advice of breathing into my discomfort and pain, rather than escaping it, is most definitely the best piece of prenatal yoga advice I ever got and it was directly applicable in ensuring the safe arrival of a healthy baby boy almost 8 years ago. After that experience it became an integral part of how I deal with my own MS, and the challenges – not only physical but also mental – of having a chronic disease.
Somehow, loosening up and removing the ‘dis’ and focusing on the ‘ease’ of the breath can have tremendous benefits and I argue that the same goes for discomfort. Here, also, we can remove the ‘dis’ and settle into our warm and soft bodies and experience the ‘comfort’ of that body. Even in a physically challenged body there is a comfort in going inwards and being with that body, instead of observing it from the outside; judging it for what it is not doing whilst it is doing its best to serve you and to heal.
Clearly neither of us is ever going to be free if we can only be happy when we are free of discomfort, free of worries, free of fears. Real freedom is above all this and yoga helps us to stay with what we are facing rather than running away from it.
How do you use breath to arrive in your body and find comfort in whatever is happening?
Contributed by guest author Lina Christensen, Yoga Teacher Training Alum