I occasionally attend a hot yoga class on Mondays at noon. The particular instructor who teaches the class always begins with the toe squat pose:
It may look simple, but don’t let appearances fool you. After 30 seconds your insides are screaming and groaning, begging you to release your toes from the pressure. You can’t think of anything else but the pain. It feels like it will never end and every passing moment feels like an eternity. Sitting in this pose is one of the most intense 2-4 minutes of my life. Seriously.
This is a pose that’s about mental vigor, about having the capacity to simply sit in the intensity of pain. It’s a pose about trusting the process and waiting for the release that is promised when it’s over.
The toe squat pain is unlike any physical pain I’ve ever felt. It’s consuming in the moment, but you know it will end eventually. It’s a pain with a purpose (in this particular case improving balance, toe flexibility and strength – all important for yoga). A pain that isn’t causing any actual damage to your body. It’s conquerable, yet uncomfortable. And when it’s finished, the sweet relief of the pressure makes every moment of sitting worth it.
I think the toe squat pose parallels most of life’s pains and hurts.