Today I'm relearning about rest, and that just because I have a goal to write every day, it doesn't need to be my chief focus or get in the way of my family time. So today I"ll share a story about rest.
Good things can come from seemingly bad things; and that’s what happened for me January of 2012. I was 34 years old, single but actively dating and coming off a string of disconnected and dead-end dates. I had a feeling that something had to give, and I finally realized it was me, no one else. It was time to stop pointing fingers and step up into the life I wanted. so I made a New Year’s Resolution for 2012 that was easy for me to achieve, because I wanted to start 2012 out with a BANG of success.
My New Years resolution was to do 31 straight days of yoga and I was ecstatic about my decision. So ecstatic that I printed an excel spreadsheet calendar, wrote a big “January 2012” across the top in a red marker, and proceeded to select which classes, teachers and studios were going to be included in this epic resolution. For impact, I went old school and wrote each class name, time, and studio down on my calendar (using a pen).
So my 31 day yoga practice had begun. I wonder, have YOU ever done 31 days straight of yoga? Have you ever done 5 days straight of yoga? If not, I understand why. It’s super intense. So by week 2, not only was every muscle in my body standing at attention and saying hello to me, but I was beginning to feel more emotionally raw, almost like I was feeling my feelings more fully for the first time, and I’d cry at the drop of a hat, which I didn’t know how to handle at the time.
So what did I do? I disengaged from my feelings and dove into Match.com of course, the ultimate distraction. I figured out a way to indulge my Match.com addiction AND do my yoga challenge; I would be inviting various men I’d been chatting with to yoga for our first date, which I thought was a brilliant strategy. In my mind, I would get 2 things knocked off in 1 hour: a date AND another day of yoga accomplished. Plus I was deep in my Lululemon addiction, so this was a prime chance to have an excuse to wear head to toe yoga gear. I had pants that made my butt look amazing, tops that accentuated my boobs just enough for a first date, and a jacket that tied it all together, so I was GOLDEN.
I invited a lot of men to yoga that January 2012, but for some strange reason, most men would insist to meet me before or after class, but not in class (smart guys). That made me even more resolute to have a date in class, because of course, I so often use to want what I couldn’t have. But 1 man said YES to a yoga date.
We’ll call Mr. unsuspecting yoga date man, Stan. Stan said he’d done yoga before, so he was excited. He was handsome both online and in person and he met me at the studio dressed in a tank top and track pants, which was perfect. Having an activity to do together helped me feel less nervous for our date, and I selected one of my favorite instructor’s classes, so I had a good idea of what I was going to get. Next came another lesson about yoga: not only do instructors have different styles, but instructors themselves can totally change up a class with no notice, and that’s totally awesome and normal. Except when you’re on a first date and yoga shifts into partner yoga with assisted handstands. Uh oh. But I wasn’t one to invite a guy to yoga and then sit out on the sidelines, so away we went in our partner experience, and things went south, fast.
My instructor Scott did an excellent job demo’ing what we were supposed to do to spot each other safely in our assisted handstands, so I smiled at Stan, and got what looked like a reassuring nod, and away I went with my kick up…and let’s just say Stan’s spot was nowhere to be felt, so over and down I went. BANG, flat on my back with searing pain up my spine and into my neck. Shit. There was a lot of commotion with other couples laughing and kicking, and the music was playing, so I have no idea who or even if anyone else other than Stan knew what had gone down (me).
I wanted to cry, but I think pride had me in a headlock of shock, so instead I just rolled over and tucked myself safely into Child’s Pose, and thanked my lucky stars that class was nearly over. I did manage to uncurl my throbbing body only for Shavasana. I could hardly comprehend what was happening. It was day 28 of my 31 day yoga challenge and here I was, flat on my back in searing pain from being unsupported by Stan on our first date. What?! This year was supposed to be awesome for my dating life! Ugh!
I found the energy to pick myself up and put on my cute matching Lulu sweatshirt and Uggs, and walk with Stan out the door to my car. He kept saying “I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened,” but I could barely hear him because I was so nauseous with pain.
All I saw was my last 3 days of yoga penciled into my schedule and my knowingness that this injury was going to make those classes nearly impossible, which broke my heart. I said goodnight to Stan, both of us knowing we'd never see each other again and I returned home and drew myself a lavender Epsom Salt bath. As I sank deeper into the water, my tears began to flow. And accompanying my tears came a long string of inner voice questions, “does my yoga challenge count if I can’t complete it?” “Am I failing on my first resolution for 2012?” “What does this mean for my luck for 2012?” Yup, it got ugly up in my head that night.
But I picked myself up, dried myself off and composed myself enough to send a heartfelt letter to my yoga instructor Scott letting him know how I was feeling and asking him for some guidance. Then I put myself to bed knowing I’d done all that I could do. I awoke in such pain I could barely move, but I saw I had a new message from Scott, so I smiled, felt a ping of gratitude and opened the message.
“Rest is part of the practice Harriet” were his words. So simple yet so profound, as most life changing advice is.
Rest can be considered PART of the practice?!
My ego was jumping up and down in excitement and confusion. So I wasn’t a failure, I could STILL feel accomplished in this yoga challenge journey, but I just needed to redefine it a little and include rest. Yes, I had to make some changes to the final days of my yoga challenge because I was injured, so I only attended guided meditations or Restore classes. And though I’d hardly move during class, I felt incredibly proud of myself for getting to my mat and showing up. It was all my body could handle, but I redefined success to include rest, and I let that be enough.
So what did I learn from that 31 days of yoga that changed my life? I learned that I can do anything I set my mind to, and I can create and edit my self imposed rules of success whenever I want. I also learned that yoga had permanently cracked me open in a way I’d never experienced before, and I felt plugged into something much bigger than me, and I’ll be forever grateful for that. After my 31 days was complete, I knew I wanted to give myself a gift, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted it to be. A month long yoga pass? A new outfit? Or perhaps a vacation? I felt giddy at the thought of what it could be.
Then 2 days later I opened a random newsletter from a yoga studio in Denver that I’d visited 3 years before while on a Match.com date, and I saw an ad on the side of the page that read, “Yoga Retreat with Don Miguel Ruiz in Costa Rica Dec 2-8, 2012.” Huh. My heart did a spin. That was nearly 10 months away, but something in me KNEW I was supposed to be there; so without skipping a beat, I called the number listed and sent them my payment in full. I was IN.
That trip changed my life, but that's another story.
So I invite you to reevaluate your definition of success and productivity to INCLUDE and celebrate rest, because from there, you can let go, surrender and allow magic to happen. And I wish Stan the best, wherever he is, and now you know that yoga may not be the ideal place for a first date, although I did hear exactly what I needed to for my growth, and I ended my 2012 with LOVE, which is the kind of BANG that feels amazing.