by Abbie Galvin

August 6th 2012

One of my favorite students told me that her shoulder hurt after doing her yoga practice. She was concerned that she was "doing it wrong.”  While it is hard for me to know what someone is doing with their shoulders without watching them work, I can safely say that you don't do yoga to stay the same. The body learns through the repetition of proper form, not setting up your structure so much as re-setting it up. In a sense, every yoga practice is an opportunity to renovate your body that is your "house.”  We engage in this effort to renovate so that we can live in our bodies well, so that our structure, that is, our bones, our frame, the boundaries will contain the interior (organ, glands, feelings) better. Our bodies and minds coming into a practice are holding all of the "damage" of our life in it, our daily burdens as well as those deeper ones that take years to let go of. 

Our daily practice, whether it be a home practice done by ourselves or one in community with a teacher leading us through it, agitates, bothers, shakes up, whips up, and expands the physical body, and in the doing enables us to  let go of the deeply embedded habits of our psychology, our physiology, and the way that we think. Our greatest task is to develop the skill of mediating between our practice in the moment (the personal) and where we would like to be (the ideal). And then our shoulder pain is relegated to its rightful place, as a nudge to use our shoulders as part of the scaffolding for our lungs, which enables us  to have more volume, air, and joy.