I’m doing a lot more yoga lately and am completely loving it. For so long after my diagnosis I wanted to start again but I was scared. Some people told me I should not exercise at all while recovering and others told me to get back on the road, running. None of that advice was good advice. I love exercise. I love for my body to feel lean and fit. I love pushing myself to see what I can achieve. But I have felt too depleted to run. I have tried it and realised that I’ve pushed too hard. It caused a set-back and required some time to recover.
And of course the yoga I like had to be hard. No messing around with half hearted postures and sort-of doing it. I want to do the tough Bikram yoga in a hot humid studio that makes you sweat from every pore. I’m happy when I’m stiff the next day because I made the most of it. I don’t like half measures, I like giving my all to what I do.
That being said, I need to be aware of my limitations. I know that 90 minutes off full effort would probably have killed me at first. So I found a studio that has 60 minute classes and where the vibe is quite relaxed. I still managed to give myself a hernia from pushing too hard though. But I am so enjoying it. I love the fact that I have so much yet to learn and master. I love it that I can give my best and not create set-backs for myself. I’m even starting to feel part of a community.
One thing that intrigues me is that phrase ‘find stillness’. I seem to be the one straining the most, with my legs shaking and sweat pouring. I often wonder if anyone else is struggling quite as much as I am. Only in one posture do I find the ability to feel still and calm even when my body’s working hard. And no, it’s not the one where you lie down flat on your back, resting.
Is this what we are meant to be finding in all postures? Or just some? How many years will it take me to master even some of them? And I ask this with joy, not frustration. I love it that yoga is so challenging. Having been a long distance runner, the contrast is great. I know that no matter how hard I train I would never be a really good runner. I was never very fast and there can be those who make you feel not worthy for your slow time on the 87 km race. Crazy, isn’t it?
Yoga is not like that. It’s unusual that I notice those around me because I’m so focused on getting my form right. Occasionally I notice a real pro which gives me something to aspire to. But it’s really about improving your own practice, not competing with others. I think I do fall into the competitiveness of an activity that I’m doing and I’m grateful that yoga doesn’t inspire that quality.
I love yoga because it requires discipline and focus to be able to get the postures right and to improve. Each teacher brings a new angle, allowing me to expand my understanding of the practice. Yoga is also healing for the body. As someone with an auto-immune thyroid condition, I’m really benefiting from all the compression postures.
I’d love to apply the concept of finding stillness to my life. So often we are straining, driving and pushing to reach our goals and to get things done. This time of year seems to encourage a lot of rushing, and errands to run before Christmas. I’m trying my best to find stillness in amongst the chaos.
I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, I believe in goals. And I think I’ll make one of mine ‘Find Stillness’ – in everyday life, in the mayhem of a household with little children and in the work I do. It reminds me of Eckhart Tolle and how he says we should be able to meditate in a busy noisy place, not waiting for that perfect opportunity to find quiet. In the school holidays with the kids home and a lot going on, I’m focussing on finding stillness whenever I can grab a moment.Follow me: