I don't believe pain needs to be a by product of a yoga move or posture, we are sometimes led to believe or conditioned to think that if a yoga pose is hurting then we are doing it right, or if we can feel a strong sensation then something is working. Especially in hectic London life people push for results, and they tend to measure that with how much they can feel and how quickly they can feel it. Like the pain you feel the next day after over doing it at the gym, this is our body tells us it hurts, yet we feel a sense of accomplishment for it.
But Yoga can be practised in such a way, with careful curiosity that there doesn't need to be any pain, you will still receive the same results over time and with less injuries.
Having said this, I do believe that learning to sit with and through discomfort has great benefits. This is different to pain, it is a feeling that most people tend to avoid by distraction. One of the many benefits of yoga is that it allows and encourages you to sit with discomfort and to get familiar with these feelings which in turn helps dissolve them.
Yoga also gives you an opportunity to explore where your pain threshold lies often referred to as 'your edge', it teaches you to use your intuition to know what can be sat with and what is causing you harm.
Life is a serious of expansions and contractions, pain and happiness. The more we can except discomfort the less suffering it will cause to our lives. Keeping our energy moving is key, avoiding or suppressing these things has the opposite effect, keeping energy stagnant. If we can get more familiar with discomfort knowing it will pass the quicker it will integrate with the rest of our energy flow, no longer causing the blocks it once did.
Pain however should be treated differently. If you feel a physical or sharp pain in yoga, gently ease out of whatever posture you are in. Physical, mental or emotional pain that demands your whole attention needs a different approach, this is where self acceptance and love is so important, to except where you are with it, whether that's a life situation or your really trying to get into that warrior two but your front knee is screaming at you. Except where you are and meet that with your loving kindness. Don't push through pain, your body is giving you these messages for a reason, listen to it!
So for me there is two types of pain, the pain/discomfort that it is beneficial to sit with and inquire into and the pain that sends you clear messages that it needs attention and nurture.
How do you deal with pain? Do you avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, or are you drawn to it? How you deal with lifes discomfort will be reflected in your yoga practise.