Today I want to share an important lesson that it’s taken me a LONG time to learn. I’m pretty stubborn, so hopefully it won’t take quite as long for you to learn it, or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who already has. If that’s the case, consider this a gentle reminder.
Four years ago, during my yoga teacher training, my right shoulder started feeling a bit tweaky. I asked my teachers about it and all of them said to rest it, stop doing chaturanga (the ultimate shoulder shredder) for awhile, and work on my alignment once it felt better. At the time I was 23 and knew everything, so I didn’t listen. I was also in the super yogini, vegetarian, yoga-every-damn-day mindset and taking some time off and being gentle with myself just didn’t fit the program.
Fast forward to the present day. The slightly-tweaky shoulder of 4 years ago is now so inflamed that it hurts ALL THE TIME. Finally, I went to see a physical therapist recommended by a trusted fellow bodyworker and after an hour of slightly painful myofascial release and a stern talking to about “seriously staying off of it for 2 weeks”, my shoulder feels better than it has since I started teaching! Of course I still have to remind myself every day to stay off of it. No demonstrating, no handstands, no down dogs, no planks, just stop.
This yoga hiatus has forced me to re-evaluate the way I practice, the way I teach, and the way I treat myself. I’ve had the time to really sit with myself, feel my body, and check in with what would FEEL GOOD, not what I think I should do, not how many days it’s been since I did a vinyasa, or worry about losing the strength I worked so hard to build up. Because none of that matters if I’m not doing it mindfully.
So here’s the lesson: It is SO NECESSARY to listen and deeply nourish yourself, both body and spirit. Injury, illness, and pain are signs of imbalance in our physical or energetic bodies that shouldn’t be ignored. Resting isn’t weakness. I’ve noticed resting and taking time to replenish my stores of energy is actually more work and takes more courage because it requires silencing the guilt and fear of being “lazy” and going against everything I’ve done for 27 years.
How can you deeply nourish and love yourself more? What are some of your favorite self-care practices? And what might you be doing that is causing your physical, emotional, or energetic body more stress? What might it be like to let that go?