Life is better here at the House of the Sick & Crippled. My husband has been nursing his back while I’ve been nursing him for the past several days and we both are on the mend. Many, many thanks to those who dropped by my blog on Friday with good wishes and to those who suggested acupuncture. What an excellent idea. I am researching specialists in the area (there are surprisingly few here) and may just end up making myself an appointment. I’ve missed yoga for the last week and my back is not happy with the neglect it’s been receiving.
Speaking of yoga, while in class a couple of weeks ago I had a smack-me-over-the-head-utter-amazement kind of moment. We were around twenty minutes into class, and were instructed by our yoga teacher to move into a series of poses, holding each pose for 5 breaths. They were: plank, left side plank, plank again, right side plank, with a few other core exercises sprinkled in for good measure (for a photo of side plank, click here). Afterward I couldn’t help but notice the younger woman next to me. She was doing a lot of labored breathing and was soaking wet with sweat. It concerned me and I couldn’t help but keep an eye on her for the remainder of the class. Our instructor kept reminding ‘the class’ that it’s not about competing with those next to us. “We should listen to our bodies and remind ourselves that this is not a competition,” she said.
We continued doing a few more core strengthening poses and it was clear that the young woman was having a difficult time. She was a real trooper and made every attempt in keeping with the poses but when we finished in child’s pose (relaxing and restful) she was pretty out of breath and shaky.
When class was over I started rolling up my mat; I made eye contact with her and smiled. When I did, I saw a very overwhelmed expression. She wore the look of frustration and disappointment on her face. She gave me a quick glance, lifted her mat and left the studio. It struck me at that very moment that I was looking at a mirror image of myself 14 years ago. This woman looked to be in her mid-twenties and was carrying approximately the same weight I was at her age – around 230 pounds. If I had taken the same class back then, I would have struggled as much, if not more than she did that day. Scratch that. In reality, I never would have had enough self-esteem to TAKE a class to begin with. I never thought I’d be the type of person to do any kind of physical activity in a class setting. I have always been so self-conscious about my awkwardness that it interfered with my ability to concentrate on my task at hand. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to those around us who make certain exercises look effortless and graceful. It suddenly struck me that my fear of being in a group exercise class was gone. I had confidence in my body. Wow. What a new feeling that was.
It’s funny, because what I also wanted to write in today’s post was that I feel the strongest I’ve ever felt in my life – and I did feel that way until I caught that cold. Now, I just feel like a puny weakling who now gets winded by stepping out of the shower. I will head back to yoga tonight and take a gentle class, but I know that I’m going to be huffing and puffing and making grunting sounds with every pose I do. I know it’s temporary, but boy does it ever make me appreciate my body when it’s healthy.
As I prepare for tonight’s class (I’m sure it will take me an hour alone just to get myself dressed) I’m thinking about that young woman. If she were practicing next to me tonight like she was a couple of weeks ago, she’d probably be thinking, ‘What the hell happened to her?!’ I would take the time to tell her that this is precisely why we can’t compare ourselves to other people. We don’t have the luxury of knowing the backstory of the people we exercise with. I’d also want her to know that the only thing that truly matters is that we’re out there, trying, and that I myself had just recently gained the courage to do what she was doing.
Hopefully I will see her again. If not, then perhaps another person at another time.
Thanks for reading today. Come back on Wednesday for our Moving Mountains Update. To those of you who decided to participate last month, stop by to share your progress report for the month of November. To those who want to work on a specific goal for the month of December, drop by to leave your goal with me and mark your calendar for December 31st, which will be our final update for the year as well as the official end of the Moving Mountains Challenge – can you believe it’s been running every month for almost a whole year?
See you on Wednesday!