I have promised you a C.S. Lewis quote, and I have not forgotten. I’ll give it to you in the next post, I promise! I have just a little more to say about the process of my 30-Day Yoga journey before arriving at the grand conclusion.
There is no better way to end a honeymoon than with injury. (Well, vomiting works too—did that on my original honeymoon.) So, doing yoga nearly every day for the first two weeks of the month (and enjoying it immensely), I managed to strain the tendons at the ends of my hamstrings.
The good thing was that because I really was trying to move gently and feel for my limits, I did not seriously injure myself, and I was aware that I needed to back off in order to prevent worse pain.
However, this setback was a source of great disappointment for me. I was so excited about what I was getting out of the yoga practice, and I was finally starting to feel that I was going to really be able to make a healthy and sustainable lifestyle change. I was determined to find a way to work with my body’s abilities, and more than once thought about my amazing dad, who taught himself to play tennis left-handed when faced with tennis elbow that threatened to take him out of the game. However, I felt like nothing I tried, being as gentle as I could be, seemed to allow me to recover. I would try to strengthen my hamstring; my hip would hurt. I would try to help my hip; my lower back would hurt. I would try to rest; everything would still hurt.
I found myself really grieving about my limitations. Partly, I still view myself as an athlete, even though that is not true of me any more. It is a loss to recognize that physical ability is not currently a part of my identity. Secondly, I had truly believed that I was making reasonable requests of my body, and it was profoundly disappointing to find that my body couldn’t handle those requests.
I say all this with an awareness that facing limitations in exercise ability pales in comparison to the grief of the body disappointing us in much bigger ways. I cannot begin to touch the magnitude of cancer, aging, surgery, and debilitating disease.
Facing the realities of my relatively normal, 35-year-old body, my usual mode is to dismiss the physical disappointment in favor of focussing on inner realities. However, I am coming to believe that dichotomizing my life in this way weakens me.
Embracing my body’s limitations, with the disillusionment, frustration, and sadness that entails, is the more immediately painful route. But I am learning to experiment with moving in that direction out of a hope and belief that courageous honesty with myself will be more fruitful in the long run than focussing on one side of my being at the expense of the other.
With this goal in mind, of meeting my body where it is and embracing even the parts of that reality that are painful for me, I feel more encouraged to keep feeling my way forward in pursuit of greater health and balance.