On January 1st I started the 31 day Yoga Revolution with Yoga with Adriene.
I began with the same excitement that accompanies every Monday when the new diet begins, every New Year when the new life begins, in fact every plan I have every forced myself to do.
I rationalised that this will be the ONE, the one to shift my exhaustion, boost my energy, pull me out of the pit of despair I found myself in last winter. I was still operating under the illusion that the same striving, pushing mentality that got me into this mess, would somehow work to free me from the chronic fatigue that had ended my career. The trouble was I had no idea of how else to be.
My strategy “worked” for 17 days but far less than boost my energy it led me straight back to another relapse.
On day 18, unable to get out of bed, I felt a range of emotions. Mainly, what the hell is wrong with me? Why can’t I get better? Will I ever be fully well again? Is the life I took so much for granted now over?
I felt like a failure, I had burned out before, recovered and gone to university and worked for 7 years as a teacher. But somehow, I had managed to recreate all the conditions that had led me to becoming ill in 2000. I had worked hard, taken on more and more responsibility, given my whole heart and soul to the school.
The realisation hit me like a ton of bricks. I was applying the same Type A mindset to my recovery and even my yoga practice.
I had never stopped to consider what my body wants.
The truth was I had no idea. Literally not a clue.
I didn’t know whether it was best to rest or try some yoga. In 54 years of being on the planet I had NEVER asked my body what it wants. MY body was an appendage located south of my over-active mind and my mind called all the shots, like a warped sergeant-major, barking orders to get out of the bed and get things done!
As I had not managed to sustain the daily practice of Revolution, my mind, of course, had written it off as a failure.
My next step was to look around for the next plan, you know, the one that would be the ONE!
But, some deeper, wiser part of me would not let go of Revolution, even as I lay in bed unable to muster the energy to roll out my mat.
Then one morning, several weeks later, as I sipped my morning tea in bed, a voice inside me said “Mmmm, I fancy doing yoga today”.
So I got out of bed, rolled out my mat in my study and did day 18. This went on all through February, March and April. I waited for that still, small voice that WANTED to do yoga and I did the next day’s practice. I realised when I don’t push myself, the impulse to do yoga naturally arises.
117 days after I began, I completed day 31.
The theme for day 31 was “Follow your intuition” and Adriene encouraged me to listen to my body and allow the practice to flow, tapping into what my body actually needs in the moment. I cried my way through that practice as I realised that my body is much wiser than me and does, indeed, know what she needs. It was such a fitting end to my journey, which is paradoxically only beginning.
So over to you, dear reader. Do you listen to the needs of your body? Do you have a still, small voice that rises up when you stop pushing yourself? Or do you, like I did, keep pushing yourself on and on, expecting your body to comply with the demands of your mind, ignoring the signs of stress and overwhelm?
Please leave a comment below and let’s start a conversation about slowing down enough, even in the midst of our busy lives, to take care of ourselves.