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There Is a Difference Between "ooo" and "ouch".

In my classes I tell my students to always go to the point in the postures where they say "ooo". As in "ooo that feels good" or "ooo that is interesting" or "ooo I didn't know I was tight there". "Ooo" is a great place to be and to explore and learn about their bodies and their reactions. I warn them not to let the wonderful "ooo moment" turn into a painful "Ouch!" As in "Ouch! that hurts" or "Ouch! Did I just tear something?" or "Ouch! Yoga is terrible."

I say this alot because when I don't or when I use common language about "feeling" or "playing with" their "edge" I usually see students pushing and straining and striving rather than moving with care and intelligence into poses. Maybe it's our social programming to achieve and win kicking in triggered by the use of the word edge. People seem to feel like their edge is something to be overcome or hit like a wall. All of their competition and goal setting habits come to the surface and I see it all over their faces, in the gripping of their toes, the tightness of their hands, and the shallowness of their breathing that they are moving into "The Ouch Zone" (cue Twilight Zone theme music). This is not Yoga.

However, when I remind them to move into "Oooo" and let them know that it is ok to be in a place that does not hurt or feel like a strain I see them take their poses further, safer. I simply give out permission to be ok with where they are without letting them know that this is the same edge they were fighting with before.

"The Oooo Zone" is that place where we can actually inquire about our bodies through our sensations. We can experience the stress and challenge of the poses while remaining calm and focused. For example, after holding Plank or Full Boat pose for 5 breaths I can hear my mind say "ooo my abs are on fire" and I make adjustments in my breath or position to help keep that "ooo" from turning "ouch". Especially in Plank I learn to feel the difference between the sensation in my wrists vs. the sensation in my abs. One may feel "ooo man my abs are on fire" while the other may be "ouch my wrists are hurting I need to put my knees down".

Learning to distinguish between feeling discomfort and feeling pain is a huge key to finding that union between body and mind. This is Yoga.

"When we practice self-acceptance, what we are truly accepting is all of our living reality. The more we trust the radiance and love that is our essence, the more we recognize that same goodness and spirit in all beings."

-Tara Brach

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