Indeed, most of the ethnic groups believe pain is a disorder or discomfort to lead quality life but the true practitioners in any discipline (Yoga, academics, software etc) will simplify the pain into good and bad with their intellect.
Trainers will sometimes ask: ‘Is it good pain or bad pain?’ This may seem like an odd question. After all, pain is pain – what’s the point of applying a value judgment?
In our practices ‘good’ pain refers to a course of action or internal process, rather than a static experience, respectively ‘bad pain’ creates monotonous in practice and makes aspirant land into discomfort zone. The teacher, when asking this question, is prompting us to identify what is happening rather than how it feels as it is happening. Essentially the question the teacher is asking is this: ‘Do you recognise that pain as the kind of pain which will help you progress, or is that the kind of pain associated with trying too much, pushing too hard – in essence, practicing without awareness?
Since pain is inevitable, asana is a laboratory in which we discover how to tolerate the pain that cannot be avoided and how to transform the pain that can.’ ———- B.K.S. Iyengar
These are important questions to consider and while there are no straightforward answers, merely thinking about these things can help us to better understand our bodies/systems and the messages it tries to communicate to us. In that spirit, a few thoughts now on the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ pain:
Good pain is transformative, constructive and progressive in nature; It moves you from one place to another for cognitive learning. It is pain that can soften the brain and be addressed with rhythmic breath. It is pain tied up with the work we must do in practices to understand our limits and it assists to learn constructive lessons from our mistakes and blunders finally it lead and land us to sharpen our awareness quotient and self competitive quotient.
Bad pain is pain that will bring you to a halt and destructive, obsessive and inconsolable in nature. It cannot be eased through breath. It is pain that debilitates and it is pain that shoots or is sharp or is incessant. There is no way around this kind of pain. It is endless. There is no respite.
Good pain promotes energy and fosters insight. It is natural in its awfulness, in its ordinariness. It is ordinary pain. Good pain can be negotiated – not avoided, not at all, but got around. Then, as B.K.S. Iyengar says, it becomes possible to ‘find comfort in discomfort.’ So it is that good pain is there as a teacher, an opportunity. Good pain can be tolerated and entered into as a matter of mastery and control. Good pain is present in one form or another, to varying degrees, in every activity and action in our life.
‘Good pain is reliable, consistent, and necessary. ‘Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.’ ————- B.K.S. Iyengar
Bad pain seizes you. It sneaks and screams up on you and steals your consciousness and also your breath – bad pain takes your breath away and makes you to gasp in your actions. You cannot be anywhere but in the pain with bad pain, there are no options, it dominates you makes you very lethargy and dogmatic in nature. Bad pain leaves you aggravated and irritated and makes you to think in bypass rather than royal path: it depletes your energy and exhausts you it connate that day to day we are running away from our goals and destinations, it propels us to wear shabby dress internally to deteriorate our physical, mental and intellectual energies.
It signifies good pain is indispensible. It may hurt, but it is good to hurt in this way in so much as it is vital. For growth, maturity, transcendence: these things will never come without pain. Pain is like the grass, the river and the mud in that classic children’s song – you can’t go around, under or over pain. You must go through.
‘We must not try to run from the pain but to move through and beyond it. This is the cultivation of tenacity and perseverance, which is the spiritual attitude of yoga. This is also the spiritual attitude toward life.’ – B.K.S. Iyengar