The Pain of Asana

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The Pain of Asana

Postby Luce » Fri Dec 26, 2014 11:37 pm

I had a question about asana and was hoping someone could help me with it.

I've been using half-lotus, generally for a maximum time of 30 minutes. Tonight, at around the 30 minute mark, I decided to power through to see what an hour was like. I remember hearing (or reading) that there is a type of "wall" one must hit and overcome in order to reach a state of painless bliss.

Anyway, I hit no such state. 30 minutes produced numbness, and by the 35 minute mark things were starting to hurt... The pain grew very intense around the 40 minute mark and continued until the hour was up. It's hard to rate pain, but I'd say it was almost unbearable (sweating from the pain, uncontrolled grimacing, nausea, etc.).

So, what of this wall? I was hoping the pain would go away, but it didn't. Would I have needed to go longer than 60 minutes? Or was I doing something wrong? Could someone describe what it's like to go from asana pain to no pain? Gradual, sudden, etc.? The pain was very bad in my left thigh and buttocks. Any insight would be much appreciated!
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Re: The Pain of Asana

Postby Uni_Verse » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:33 am

For me, when approaching such lengths of Asana, the pain gradually lessened until striking a particular point where I can only describe a sensation of all the stress/pain "washing away."

Generally speaking, in my experience, especially at the current level/duration being discussed, any pain or discomfort is normally (but not all ways) a result of a break in the Asanas equilibrium.
In example, you mention discomfort/pain in the left thigh/buttox...
A possible cause is either you are leaning to the right (and thus 'stretching' the muscles more ) or to the left (placing extra pressure/weight on the left leg ).
This also depends on which foot is "on top."

Rather than try and push for such a large extension, my advice is to slowly increase the time.
Especially considering the base length being doubled.
That is to say, going from 5 to 10 mins in a single push is not so bad (though I would personally not recommend it - but that has to do with some of my own peculiarities ) but going from 30 to 60 may be too much.
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Re: The Pain of Asana

Postby Hermes » Wed Jan 07, 2015 7:48 pm

Also one can go straight into meditation with some magick. If there is a god next to you in asana too, and great powers all around you, do you think you'll be annoyed by some butt hurting? :) You most probably wont even notice it.
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Re: The Pain of Asana

Postby bdc » Sat Jan 10, 2015 3:14 am

I'd say that discomfort is inevitable and to be worked through, but unbearable pain isn't good.
I encountered a similar thing once I got past the 40 minute point of daily asana, with more pain than discomfort and numbness / loss of circulation in the legs. What I did was to find a hatha yoga teacher (more particularly a teacher of the kind of yoga-as-physical-exercise, rather than raja yoga, what most people would think of as yoga and easily found in the west), explained that I wanted to practice extended meditation in one posture without moving, and got them to teach me a series of stretches which would help loosen me up for that posture in particular. So I got a series of stretches which take about half an hour to do before my asana / meditation practice. It helped immensely and I was easily able to reach doing one hour of asana in pretty much complete physical stillness.
Another major advantage of loosening up with those stretches is that, now, when I'm in asana and I get discomfort, stiffness or tension somewhere in the body, it's a sign my posture is slightly incorrect - indicating either that I slightly slipped out of the still asana a little bit or that I was a little incorrect in doing the posture right as the start of the session - and so it's a lot more clear why the discomfort, stiffness or tension is there, and how to correct it.
A zafu cushion might be of benefit also, especially for cross-legged postures as it raises the hips and aids keeping the back straight .
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Re: The Pain of Asana

Postby Thelemic oz » Thu Feb 05, 2015 1:59 pm

Stick to your 30min and increase your time slowly say by 5 min. Increments until you get your hour. No point or value being in agony, thats just one whole break. Good as an exercise in itself to see when the agony kicks in but not as a regular practice.
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Re: The Pain of Asana

Postby Fr Cognosco cum Lux » Sun Mar 29, 2015 9:56 am

A tip that helped me enormously is to imagine your head is hung on a hook or there is a button above your head that you try to push with the top of your head. Let your shoulders relax completely to feel your spine extend upwards. Using this method I felt the "painless bliss" in less than 10 minutes.
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Re: The Pain of Asana

Postby gurugeorge » Wed Apr 01, 2015 9:39 pm

I think the Liber O and 8 Lectures essays can be a bit misleading on this subject.

Here's the fact: it's possible to get to a state in which one doesn't have the normal sensation of having a body. The best description of it, and one of the few descriptions of it outside of Crowley's work is in Katsuki Sekida's Zen Training, where he calls it "body-off sensation".

IOW, it's part of the oral tradition in meditation traditions, but seldom gets mentioned as a separate topic in the way that Crowley and Sekida mentioned it. The reason for that is, that as Crowley said, getting it is a kind of "foot in the door" thing with meditation - you only get it after a certain period of sincere, dedicated meditation, and teachers would probably prefer you to bring this to them as a result.

However, it's possible to get it without any sort of struggle or "pain barrier". And the particular posture doesn't really matter all that much. The only thing that matters about posture for meditation is that one's spine should be upright and that one should be comfortable (again, Sekida gives some wonderfully detailed analysis and description). This means that either a chair (God posture) or any seated cross-legged position should be fine, but for seated cross-legged meditation, it's best to raise your bum, so that your knees are a tad below your hips. That sets the spine at the right position "bolt upright", if you also have a sense of the crown of the head being pulled up. (In actual fact, the correct position will feel as if you're ever so slightly leaning forward (from the base of the spine) at first.)

Basically, if you just do normal counting meditation, then move on to following breath, you can get "body-off" fairly quickly (a few weeks of half-hourly meditation daily should be enough). It's not really necessary to treat Asana as a separate topic if the aim is to get "body-off". However, it may be the case that for the Thelemic system, the requirement is that you go "through the mill", as Crowley might have said (i.e. the discipline and moral training is part of the system in the way that it isn't so much with some other traditional systems).

The reason for "body-off" is interesting. I think it's down to the way the brain works - mostly by generate-and-test (is it this?, or this?, or that?), and constant active scanning. It's very clear to see with the case of the eyes. If you either stare at something (anything, a pebble will do), or stare at a blank wall, for a while, you eventually get a sort of "grey out" - you actually lose the sensation of vision altogether, you literally cease to see anything. This is because your eyes have either ceased to saccade, or they're saccading over a visually featureless surface (blank wall), so edge detection is lost, so there's no generate-and-test process in the visual system, so no vision.

I think a similar thing happens with the body. The proprioceptive system probably has an equivalent of constant scanning or saccading going on, and when that ceases, or is presented with the same signal for long enough, the sense of proprioception is lost.
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Re: The Pain of Asana

Postby ThelemicMage » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:39 am

I find that when I cannot let loose in my asana, a small dose of Cannabis, as Crowley puts it, will "loosen the girders of the soul," allowing me to actually enjoy the pain of the posture, transmuting it into something manageable.

It's the only non-addictive thing I could recommend besides doing semi-intense pre-stretching and just going through with it.






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Re: The Pain of Asana

Postby gerry456 » Sat Sep 26, 2015 10:31 am

Luce wrote:I had a question about asana and was hoping someone could help me with it.

I've been using half-lotus, generally for a maximum time of 30 minutes. Tonight, at around the 30 minute mark, I decided to power through to see what an hour was like. I remember hearing (or reading) that there is a type of "wall" one must hit and overcome in order to reach a state of painless bliss.

Anyway, I hit no such state. 30 minutes produced numbness, and by the 35 minute mark things were starting to hurt... The pain grew very intense around the 40 minute mark and continued until the hour was up. It's hard to rate pain, but I'd say it was almost unbearable (sweating from the pain, uncontrolled grimacing, nausea, etc.).

So, what of this wall? I was hoping the pain would go away, but it didn't. Would I have needed to go longer than 60 minutes? Or was I doing something wrong? Could someone describe what it's like to go from asana pain to no pain? Gradual, sudden, etc.? The pain was very bad in my left thigh and buttocks. Any insight would be much appreciated!


I experienced this pain to bliss last night in half-lotus, I did a 25 minute session and after about 10 minutes the lower back pain and leg pain became a pleasurable kind of non-awareness of the body. I have my right heel pulled over my left thigh. I generally feel pain from these exercises constantly throughout my days but (this is going to sound odd) it's a pleasant sort of pain.
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Re: The Pain of Asana

Postby gerry456 » Fri Nov 27, 2015 8:57 am

Luce wrote:I had a question about asana and was hoping someone could help me with it.

I've been using half-lotus, generally for a maximum time of 30 minutes. Tonight, at around the 30 minute mark, I decided to power through to see what an hour was like. I remember hearing (or reading) that there is a type of "wall" one must hit and overcome in order to reach a state of painless bliss.

Anyway, I hit no such state. 30 minutes produced numbness, and by the 35 minute mark things were starting to hurt... The pain grew very intense around the 40 minute mark and continued until the hour was up. It's hard to rate pain, but I'd say it was almost unbearable (sweating from the pain, uncontrolled grimacing, nausea, etc.).

So, what of this wall? I was hoping the pain would go away, but it didn't. Would I have needed to go longer than 60 minutes? Or was I doing something wrong? Could someone describe what it's like to go from asana pain to no pain? Gradual, sudden, etc.? The pain was very bad in my left thigh and buttocks. Any insight would be much appreciated!


I think the big problem is that people are doing asanas by themselves or if alone, they're not watching themselves in a mirror. I understand that if you're leaning to one side then you're putting unbalanced pressure on your lower spinal disks. Maybe this is why AC advised the saucer of water on head.
2.19 They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.

2.21 We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
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Re: The Pain of Asana

Postby ThelemicMage » Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:41 pm

An advanced technique one can try is eating a good deal of any kind of beans before a session. Holding an asana while passing gas as quietly as possible is by far one of the most intense practices I've tried. One reason is because if one passes it audibly, one has to go through the motions of not laughing.

You think I am joking, but I am deadly serious.



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Re: The Pain of Asana

Postby Takamba » Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:18 am

I don't understand fart jokes. I just fart.

You fart, he farts, a she farts.
They fart, we fart, a you fart.
We all fart a lot, yeah.

Now, a pain in the asana - that's something else.
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Re: The Pain of Asana

Postby ThelemicMage » Fri Dec 04, 2015 5:17 am

Eating a lot of pepper can get one use to it, though.

I eat six grams of black pepper every morning.

(There's no icon for partaking of green, vaporous libation.)
“The mushroom said to me once, ‘Nature loves courage. Nature loves courage,’ and I said, ‘What’s the payoff on that?’ And it said, ‘It shows you it loves courage because it removes obstacles.’ You make a commitment, and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream, and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up.” -Terrence McKenna

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Re: The Pain of Asana

Postby gerry456 » Sat Jun 04, 2016 9:26 am

Uni_Verse wrote:For me, when approaching such lengths of Asana, the pain gradually lessened until striking a particular point where I can only describe a sensation of all the stress/pain "washing away."

Generally speaking, in my experience, especially at the current level/duration being discussed, any pain or discomfort is normally (but not all ways) a result of a break in the Asanas equilibrium.
.


Re "a break in the Asana's equilibrium" causing pain. Yeah I tend to agree with this. Anyone else agree?
2.19 They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.

2.21 We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
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