The Connected Yoga Teacher Podcast
227: Is Pain During Yoga Okay? with Neil Pearson
As yoga teachers, we may have guided students to avoid all movements that cause any amount of pain, particularly for students who may be dealing with injuries or issues in their bodies. However, is this necessary and is pain always a bad thing? Neil Pearson sheds light on what pain science has to say about pain, and how to approach pain in yoga.
Neil Pearson is a physiotherapist, yoga therapist, educator and author. He is also the Founder of Pain Care Aware, a yoga mentorship program that focuses on a pain-informed approach to teaching yoga, and Pain Care U, which offers practical, effective, non-pharmacological pain care for people living in pain. Additionally, Niel provides education to PTs, MDs, and yoga therapists, as well as serves as a consultant to Canada's largest rehab clinic group and pain advocacy groups. He focuses on teaching about pain science, the lived experience of pain, and the intersection of pain science and yoga, with the goal of helping people living in pain and assisting others with the same desire to serve.
Neil answers some common questions around pain during yoga, including whether sharp pain is okay, how and when we can know that it is safe to explore the edges of pain, and if pain is really just all in our heads. If you are experiencing pain, or have students with pain, this is a powerful interview to listen to.
[7:54] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode - Neil Pearson.
[9:19] Neil talks about the idea that pain is a taboo topic.
[10:59] What is the work that Neil does and who does he do it for?
[12:24] How did Neil start integrating pain science into his work?
[17:19] What should yoga teachers do for people who are feeling pain?
[22:56] Many times in yoga classes, we encourage students not to do things that cause pain. What are Neil's thoughts on that?
[32:05] Neil talks more about the common belief that discomfort is okay, but sharp pain is not okay.
[34:24] Shannon and Neil discuss how determining causes of pain can be frustrating because it is influenced by many factors and is very changeable.
[38:38] Neil and Shannon discuss her experience recovering from a herniated disc recently, and how each person is an expert in their pain.
[44:18] As yoga teachers, how can we know if pain is caused by tissue damage? Neil explains the buffer between pain and damage, and how we can tap into that.
[46:23] Neil shares a bit more about movement guidelines, and how we can pay attention to four alarm systems in our bodies to know if a movement is safe.
[50:50] Neil talks about his work teaching people about pain science and the new training for yoga teachers around pain.
[53:48] Neil shares his hope that this training will help yoga teachers give people a different lived experience around pain.
Quotes from this episode:
"It's almost like pain has become a taboo topic and/or word within yoga." - Neil
"We have these beliefs about pain and those beliefs lead us to do certain behaviors. And it's also our society and our health care system [which have] beliefs about pain." - Neil
"Just because we have thoughts about pain, we have beliefs about pain, but we never question them, we never get curious about them." - Neil
"What we want to do is recognize is that we have options." - Neil
"Pain is a complex, multi faceted thing. It's not just about tissue damage there are other things involved in it." - Neil
"You can use any aspect of your existence to change any aspect of your existence." - Neil
"It's okay to provoke the symptoms if you feel at the end that the benefits of what you did outweigh the consequences." - Neil