Our body is constantly sending us messages. It tells us we are tired, hungry, in pain or discomfort. It tell us when we are hot, cold, or coming down with a bug. The body is immensely wise and if we pay attention to the messages it sends us, we would probably be in incredibly better shape. However, we live in a society that prescribes precisely the opposite. Over-the-Counter (OTC) medication revenues in 2011 surpassed $17 billion dollars and there is a reason for it. We need to keep doing whatever we are doing whether it is working, exercising, studying, eating, etc. The body, for example, will say to you, “Hey, every time you feed me Mexican food I give you heartburn, diarrhea and acid reflux,” and what do you do you take medication that alleviates the symptoms or even better, corporations tell you, “Hey, take my little blue pill and go on have that triple layer taco with hot sauce. You know you deserve it.”
Another great example is pain relief medication. Headaches are a symptom that something else is going on in your body. It can be that you are tired, didn’t digest food properly, are stressed out, have hormone imbalance, etc. So the first thing we do when we get a headache is pop two (or in some instances more) pills to shut up the pain.
What we don’t realize is that by masking these symptoms we are ignoring and avoiding a much bigger problem that perhaps won’t go away with an OTC and will require surgery, long medical attention, and perhaps worse disability (which is actually the reason that we took the OTC in the first place so that we wouldn’t have to stop).
Integrating yoga into our life means paying attention to all aspects of our life and seeing that they work together toward a happy, healthy, spiritually wholesome existence. As a yoga instructor, I am constantly advising students to not take the asana or yoga pose to the extreme; to where they feel pain because they may not only injure themselves, but will probably have a hard time moving the next day. Still many students (and I must admit I have fallen into this category at times) not listen and the next day or sooner I am soaking in Epsom Salts.
Of course, there are times that we do need to visit a medical specialist at the onset of a symptom, but very often prior to that moment our body has sent us many signs and warnings that we were overdoing it. So the next time that you reach into your bag for the pain reliever or the 5-hour energy drink, stop and think of what you will feel the next day or a week later. Have OTCs become your daily supplements? An what is the long term effect of ignoring such valuable internal wisdom. Honor the Temple of the Spirit.