So, I waved goodbye to January – the bleakest of months – feeling like I had made a solid start to 2019.
Yoga – Bikram in Leeds to be exact – was now a regular timeout in my schedule – on the calendar in black and white and loving every minute of it. Enjoying the stillness and focus, the new energy I was starting to feel for my writing and a growing sense that 2019 was off to a positive start in the sense that I was taking care of myself.
Work – mid-January I made the difficult decision to step down from the management team at my school in order to alleviate the pressure I was feeling and, well, to give myself more time to write, more time for yoga and regain a certain level of health that I lamented. My decision was supported by my Head and Deputy with compassion and understanding for which I was truly grateful. Joy and relief began to awaken…
And so began February, a shiny, happy loved-up month and I was excited to leave January behind, but life doesn’t often give you free-reign despite all your good intentions.
Bending down to tie my shoelace, I felt it strike again like a red hot poker down my spine. By the time I had expelled the sharp pain-induced intake of breath, I knew I was out for the count having experienced this back injury a few times before.
Later that Saturday having cancelled my beloved yoga class, I stuck on a medicated pain relief patch only to end up a couple of hours later in A&E having collapsed and had a severe reaction to its contents.
Wasn’t losing my Dad in December enough?
That was my initial reaction.
Whoever they are – they say that things happen for a reason. Well maybe things do, but at the time I had my journey all planned out and wasn’t happy that I’d had barely left the station before being tugged back down the line for maintenance and repair work.
However, as I watched the engine about face, readying itself to tow me back, I realised I was on a new track and that I would begin the second phase of my journey from a new starting point. Yoga.
Now that might sound ridiculous to some, but as I battle daily to gain independence in just getting out of bed, walking around my house, doing the most simplest of tasks we do without even thinking about it – like putting our trainers on – I realised that certain yoga postures were helping me focus the strength I had to enable my mobility. Don’t get me wrong I was suddenly leaping into Eagle pose, or leaping at anything for that matter, but I knew I couldn’t use my back for my mobility, so utilising Awkward pose, knees together, gave me enough stability to begin angling myself out of bed and standing up. At first I needed my husband to help pull me up, but now as the first couple of days have passed I can stand myself and take very small steps to the bathroom unaided most of the time. It is slow and yes, still damn painful, but from just one month’s yoga practise I am able to use what I’d learnt to enable a degree of mobility. Sure, this could have happened anyway, but still, being mindful of my yoga practise gives me a little ray of confidence and helps me push through the pain.
If you’re struggling with your physical or emotional well-being, then look at what you might already have in your life or do in your life that can support you through your own personal challenges. We are often more prepared that we give ourselves credit for. If you’re not sure, ask a friend or family member because in times of difficulty we are not always naturally kind to ourselves but are so often kinder to others. They may be able to see something you cannot.
And remember, our physical and emotional well-being are intrinsic. One will always be affected by the other.
When thinking of our physical well-being women often stick to cardio based exercise – I miss running believe me, but as my former PT, Gemma Stanley told me, it is absolutely crucial that women build and retain muscle mass because it is our best weapon in fighting against arthritis, osteoporosis, etc. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get back to lifting the weights I could last Spring, but if I can at least strengthen myself using my own body weight and build muscle through consistent yoga practise and hopefully lean back down then it is something I am committed to, especially as my mother was riddled with osteo and rheumatoid arthritis and both my grandmothers suffered with rheumatics.
At the moment I feel twice my age and I absolutely refuse to accept this. I have set personal goals for myself this year in terms of my physical and emotional well being, as I imagine quite a lot of us have. It is so important that we stick to them and not let anything derail us, however challenging, fraught or painful something is either physically or emotionally or both!
Yes, I cried. The pain was excruciating on Saturday and every bump in the road on that ambulance journey made me want to throw up. I cried feeling sorry for myself. I cried when my husband said he felt helpless seeing me in such pain.
But I won’t cry any more, dammit. I will fix this back and I will flick those signal switches to get back on track, but whilst this carriage of mine is undergoing maintenance shall we say, I will support my mental health by writing. This blog. Gaia’s Revenge. Whatever I feel I need to write to vent the internal frustration that’s threatening to build up and wall me in.
So, whatever is cathartic for you during derailments, grasp it, nurture it, feed it, do what you have to do and hold tight because the year is young and this train intends to go full steam ahead…
Featured Image from Bikram Yoga College of India.