A Message From Pain and Grief ….and the Wisdom of our Body
“There is healing on the other side of pain’
My Yamuna Body School Healing Experience
February 22, 2021
Ruth Neil Stover
This is a story that could be anyone’s story…It could be your story, your sister’s story, your best friend’s story, or your spouse’s story.
I know we can all relate to unexplained pain in our body showing up suddenly and without any reasonable explanation for its cause. We make excuses for why it’s there…and often ignore it or push thru it.
(It’s always inconvenient when it shows up, isn’t it?)
And it limits or restricts our life, and we just want to get beyond it!
So we take a pain pill, or do something else to ease the pain; we wear a brace, stretch, take a hot bath, or get a massage. Our hope is that it just goes away soon. And then we push on.
Maybe it subsides, or maybe it gets worse. But mostly it’s an inconvenience in our lives we wish would just go away.
But what if…what if your body was trying to tell you something?
Something important that you need to address before it gets worse?
I have a story to share and I hope that you can see a piece of yourself in, or at least let it be cause for reflection in healing your own life and body.
Last fall out of the blue, I developed a restriction in my right hip that just came out of nowhere. It started in the fall of 2020 and progressively got worse until I could not move my right leg in a lateral rotation. (Picture sitting “criss cross applesauce”) that is lateral rotation of the femur, the thigh bone in the hip socket. Normally I have a wide range of movement in my joints, but over the course of a couple of months, suddenly I could not sit this way without extreme pain. My leg would not even move that way! And there was no trauma or injury that could have caused this. My chiropractor diagnosed it as “hip capsulitis” Basically a frozen hip. (Like frozen shoulder…only of the hip) There is no explanation for it, and it often comes on suddenly causing acute pain and restricted movement.
I have been faithfully doing exercises over recent months to increase my range of movement and getting adjustments regularly…with some improvement, but not anywhere near my normal. And still the pain is there.
If you know me, you know that I don’t take ”I’m just getting old” as a reasonable explanation for these sort of things happening to my body, even though most people around me want to tell me that’s the reason……
that it’s my age. (Including my husband….Really?!!)
I don’t accept that, and my story will shed some light on what I learned this weekend. Maybe it will help you too!
I know there is an energetic, mental and emotional component to all things we experience here in the physical body. I have studied energetic healing and use it, and I understand how it works. Many of you may have had the experience of having emotion well up when you release a tight area in your body…maybe in a yoga class, or on a massage table. Suddenly tears well up and it’s not physical pain that causes it, but an emotional release related to this area of the body.
There is a real connection to the emotions we store, or deny, and how it shows up in the body. We all know that stress can cause illness…this is the same thing.
My healing school teacher used to say
”the last place it shows up is in the physical”
In other words, if we don’t address our emotional pain, if we stuff it down, and deny it, push through it, eventually it will manifest in a way that we cannot ignore….in our physical body. Usually through physical pain, restriction or disease.
And it takes work; emotional work and physical work, and a willingness to focus on it in order to release it.
Another saying my teacher had was…
”The only way out is through”
And it’s true. Some of the body work I am trained in allows me to explore more deeply how to do this. We have to face it and move through the pain on all levels, in order to heal it.
My Healing Work-the practice
One of my favorite modalities of body work is Yamuna Body Rolling. I have been a practitioner for years and have taught many students this method and seen some life changing transformations with this work.
Most of the Yamuna Body Rolling work focuses on the use of small balls of different size and density that we roll on following the bone and muscle fiber direction of each area of the body we work. It is meant to stimulate the bone, release the muscles and the patterns we hold- the areas that are tight or out of alignment. This takes focus. It takes awareness of what is happening in our body, and patience; going slowly to really sink in and listen to what the body is telling us. It’s different from foam rolling or any other modality you may have tried. It is very specific work that has the intent to work with the bone and allow you to get into areas that a roller or harder ball will not. And it can realign the body.
Well…..I just finished and amazing 4 days focusing on my body and doing this work in Yamuna Body School. It’s an annual event put on by Yamuna Body Rolling, taught by its founder Yamuna Zake. Usually it is held in a warm sunny tropical destination as a retreat. Well….this year everything is different, and so she offered it as a virtual retreat over 4 days. I have always wanted to attend, but with running a business, it was hard to take the time or find the resources to do so. And so, I was thrilled for the opportunity to finally attend online, and even more so at seeing the schedule focusing on body parts I needed help with!
I signed up and we began on Friday morning…early. Eastern time was 9:30 am, but here on the West
Coast where I live, we started at 6:30. (No problem, ….my only commute was to my living room, so I got
out of bed, dressed and went down to make my morning tea, let the dogs out and feed them in the 30
min before class began.) Ready to go on my mat at 6:30am!
(My Remi waiting for his food)
Yamuna Body School- Healing the body by Rolling on Balls!
We started each morning with an hour of focused expansive breath work. This is one of Yamuna’s signature offerings and she held many free morning breath classes via social media at the
start of the pandemic. I have to be honest, it is difficult for me. I get restless. I feel pain in my ribs
on the back of my left side, and it’s hard sometimes to expand fully and hold the breath in.
Hard to really focus on filling my lungs. Even after teaching decades of yoga, I find it a challenge to
really breathe deeply, completely filling my lungs and holding my breath in for a time. After 4 days I seemed to have had a bit of a breakthrough, and the morning on our last day was easier, I was more aware of where I held stuck patterns. More on this in a minute…..
(My Teacher Yamuna Zake)
The 2nd hour of each morning focused on foot work. Her new work focuses on prop-less foot training, which means anyone can do it any time anywhere! I had taken the initial training when she offered it last fall, but this daily practice was a nice dive into more focused work. Really feeling the outside line of the foot, stimulating the heel, being aware of how we stand on our feet and where we collapse. I found myself walking and standing more solidly on my feet the rest of the day after our morning classes.
Once we completed the morning breath work and foot work and after a short morning break the work began. Each day we spent 2- 2 1/2 hours of focused work on a specific area of the body. The first day was building from the feet up the legs to the hips. Finding the areas we hold tension and learning to use the various Yamuna Balls to release those areas. Day 2 was a focus on the hips and pelvis. This was the work I was most interested in.
The chronic pain I had been feeling in my right hip I hoped to find some relief for. I have to say it was amazing. It was hard, there was a lot of restriction, but by the end of the day I felt an ease in the joint that I had not felt in months. It’s not completely gone, but improved by 80% at least. I do not feel the constant restriction I have had for the past 5-6 months. WOW!! But…there was an even more important breakthrough on day 3 when we worked the spine.
My Healing Breakthrough-
As I mentioned, I have regular pain in the back on the left side of my rib cage. It’s pain I don’t think about or focus on, but I usually feel it at the end of the day when I am laying down in bed. It feels painful and restricted on my left side when I breathe, as if the rib cage on that side can’t expand without pain for me to take a deep breath. I had not thought about this connection before this weekend.
On day 3, the day after I had relief in my hip, we rolled the spine specifically focusing on releasing out from the spine across to the lateral side of the body. (Across the ribs to the side of the body.)
While I worked on my left side, rolling across the part of my ribs that hurt when I lay down, I suddenly felt a wave of emotion come over me, and tears welled up in my eyes. It wasn’t from physical pain that the tears came. It was from deep inside…and emotional wounding. As I completed the work, it was physically painful as I worked through my restrictions on the ribs on the left, but I did it. And when I finished I collapsed face down in my living room and sobbed. I cried not from the physical pain I was experiencing, but from some place deep inside…an emotional pain that I had been holding. I let it well up and flow out to be released….letting it sink into the floor under me as I cried.
I have had these kinds of emotional releases in the past doing this work, so it was not unfamiliar to me. But it has been a very long time since I have experienced it. I recognized part of this was because I have pushed these emotions down….stuffed them so that I could keep functioning. For a long time now.
Connecting the Dots…When Emotional Pain becomes Physical
I did some writing about it that night and began to put the pieces together. In Chinese medicine grief is stored in the lungs. Feeling restricted in my breathing…..relates to my holding on to, or denying my grief.
I have in the last decade experienced more than my share of loss and grief. And in the last 5 years it came to a head with the loss of both of my parents. My father passed first and then I took on being a caretaker for my mother with dementia. The pain and stress of watching it slowly take her, where she at times did not know me, was agonizing and emotionally draining. Her passing at the end of 2019 after 3 years of the stress of being her caretaker, questioning and doubting myself if I had done enough, well……it nearly broke me.
Then in early 2020, only 4 months after my mother passed, and after 12 years of being in business, I was forced to close my brick and mortar Pilates studio due to the Covid pandemic and the subsequent financial losses I sustained. It emotionally gutted me. My studio was a place that was my 2nd home, a place I had built with love in the community to serve others and share my work with the world. It was my mark on the world… something significant I had created that was a positive impact on the lives of the people I served.
And it was gone…all of it…..just gone.
***(And a side note…the pain in my hip showed up around the same time my adult daughter was very sick with Covid in early October of 2020. I was an emotional wreck, and the fear of losing her was real for a couple of weeks….more grief and fear- perhaps it was the final trigger??)
The Healing Power of Acknowledging Our Grief
Grief is not just about the death of a loved one; a person or a pet. We can feel deep grief over the loss of
a relationship, a home, a job, a business.
Grief can apply to the loss of anything that we love; if something has been meaningful in our life and we feel deeply emotional over its loss from our life, that is grief. I have experienced all of these losses. And it
seemed that the grief of the past 5 years was something I had not fully processed through. I have not fully acknowledged the pain and how it has changed me. I have stuffed down, and held it together so that I could function. Trying to keep doing my work…as if it was something I could ignore, and just move on.
But I can’t ignore it. It has changed me. I am not the same. And it’s ok.
We will be different from our losses. And that is ok. We will always feel them, but they become a part of us and we can still continue to grow and build on the love they brought into our lives. And it is from this point of recognition, that we can begin the healing process.
And I know that many of us are dealing with our own versions of grief now.
As a nation we are grieving the loss of of half a million of our fellow Americans from Covid. You may have lost a loved one. Many of us have lost jobs, homes or businesses. Grief comes in many forms and takes its
toll on us in many different ways. Let yourself honor your grief and give yourself grace…allow yourself the time to heal in the way you need to.
I learned on the last day of Body School in the morning breath work, that my grief is directly related to my recent hip pain. As I worked on breathing in to my left side, I saw and felt it, both physically and energetically, the connection from the back side of my left rib cage to my right hip. (My lungs- not being able to take a deep breath) Hmmm…well isn’t that interesting??? It makes sense to me now!!
Energy Healing and the Messages of the Body
In energy medicine, the left side of the body is the feminine; receptivity, the ability to take in and acceptance. And the right side represents the masculine; giving out, letting go, grounded strength. The insight I have. gained is that I have distorted the masculine…(something I have a tendency to do) in my need to push through my grief rather than fully acknowledge it. And the hip represents moving forward….or a problem there represents a fear of moving forward, as Louise Hay’s amazing work
defines. This pain in my right hip is from not honoring myself and my process to grieve and heal while standing in my own strength and power, instead it has become “frozen”, rigid, immovable. The pain is caused by me pushing through because I think I have to. The healing will come by allowing myself time to grow from this grief and then moving forward in the right time for me. It is then I can change this pattern and begin to heal.
“Just do it” is not a motto to follow in healing work.
And there is no time limit on healing.
We evolve as we need to.
In our own time.
This is just one insight into how healing works.
We don’t have to accept that every pain in our body means we are
permanently changing and we will never be the same because “we are
If there is an imbalance, there is a way to bring balance back.
And if we are willing to listen, to take our time and honor where we are
both physically and emotionally, we can get there, and be better on the
Sending you love and light for your own healing journey.
Be gentle with yourself.