If someone would have told me 4 years ago that my negative emotions could cause physical pain in my muscles, I would have giggled quietly to myself and thought they were crazy. However, over the past 8 months of my practice I developed an awareness of the linkage between emotional and physical pain.
Back in August 2012, I developed issues in the back of my shoulder (by the shoulder blade) and in my chest (to the right of my sternum). During my practice, I had pain when jumping back and through during vinyasa. I also had issues during back bending. Before the pain started, I was at the point where I could drop all the way back from standing to the floor on my own. However, once the pain started, I experienced a painful pulling to the right of my sternum in my chest with even the slightest movement toward back bending. The pulling was so tight and painful, that there was a period where I couldn’t back bend at all. The only relief I would get was on rare occasions, where a popping would occur in my chest, releasing the pulling and allowing me to back bend. The issue faded slowly over 3 months during which time I stopped all jump backs and jump throughs and restricted my back bending to only where I could comfortably go without feeling the pulling. I was back to my normal back bending routine and ability by November 2012.
What I realized during this time, was that the pain and tightness were related to a block in my heart chakra (Anahata chakra). In August, around the same time my chest/shoulder pain started, my relationship with someone very close to me hit some turbulence. The tough times continued for a few months. As we progressed in resolving our problems, the healing of my injuries also progressed. At first, I was skeptical regarding whether or not this was coincidence; but as time went on, I found that anytime I had a hiccup in a relationship and had strong emotions such as hurt feelings or anxiety, I noticed that the tightness in my chest resurfaced. After tuning into this reoccurring issue for the past 8 months, I am convinced that my chest pain during back bending is related to resurfacing blocks in my heart chakra.
As a result of my experiences, I realize how important it is to not harbor any sad, hurt, angry or anxious feelings. When I notice these feelings trying to surface, I work quickly to understand the root of the feelings and misconceptions they may be based on. I remind myself that when a person’s actions hurt or upset my feelings, my reaction is more a reflection about me and how I view things, rather than their intent.
What clued me in to the possibility of my physical pain being related to emotional pain was a story I read in Kino MacGregor’s book, Sacred Fire: My Journey into Ashtanga Yoga. In this book, there is a short excerpt where she talks about tightness and pain in her leg that was related to some deep rooted emotions she needed to work through. Once her feelings were resolved, the pain disappeared and her body opened.