Trotting Along

Illustration:  Eva Smith

Illustration: Eva Smith

Raise a hand if you recognize this person: The seasonal cold or flu you have been battling is on its way out the door.  You’re not better yet, but your body is starting to recover. It’s almost like you’re human once more! So, in  your excitement, you drop back in to your usual exercise routine. It feels great to be back in the swing of things…until the next day when that bug is back in full force. Congratulations! You’ve just set yourself back!

You’re not alone. I’m this person. Laying low is really challenging for me, and the longer I go without being able to move the more crazy I feel. With my YTT200 coming up in May, I’m really starting to feel the crunch. There’s pre-course reading, note taking, pose perfecting, Sanskrit memorizing stuff to get done!

One of the things I’ve struggled with these past few years has been pacing. Being disabled limits your ability to do things, so for someone used to burning the candle at both ends, learning how to slow down was HARD.  For me, a combination of journalling and therapy really helped. My counselor and I spent many sessions discussing how hard it was for me to listen to my body. My old tactic was to brush off the warning signs and that was (sooo frustratingly) no longer an option. I had to stop and reassess what I was capable of NOW, not before.

I have always been someone who thrives on tangible results. Seeing my work eventually pay off is so satisfying and for the longest time, it was how I measured my self worth. Crossing the lines off a to-do list is a powerful thing. Because I recognized this about myself, my counselor suggested that, instead of a to-do list, I write myself a DONE list. At the end of every day, I would sit down with my journal and list off the things I had managed. At first, some of my “accomplishments” felt more valid than others. “I deep-cleaned the kitchen” looks so much better than “I took a shower and changed my underwear”.

Time alone has shown me the error in this. One of the things I’ve taken away from reading the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali* is this: It’s not in how fast you move; It’s that you’re moving in the right direction.

Learning self-compassion is a lifelong process. Those of us who hold ourselves to a sometimes impossible standard know this deeply. The minute I say, “I need to slow down”, my ego sounds the alarm. Telling me I’ll fall behind…or that I’m lazy. Learning to quiet that little voice can really be a struggle. I am slowly finding the balance, even if it’s through trial and error. Recovery takes time. Your yogic practice is furthered by a healthy body and mind. Slow down, back off, and give it a little time. I promise Yoga will be there waiting for you when you're ready.

*I really enjoy Edwin Bryant’s new translation and commentary of The Yoga Secrets of Patañjali. You can find it on Goodreads. I encourage you to purchase books from independent bookstores if at all possible. Your local library is another fantastic resource and I hope you give them your support.