Prior to COVID I was pretty strong. Sure, I had some injuries that kept me from doing a lot of things that I’ve been able to do in the past — poses like astavakrasana and eka pada koundinyasana, which used to be pretty easy for me, as well as just simply pulling the starter cord thingy on my lawnmower. But even with my limitations, overall I would have classified myself as having a fair amount physical strength.
Once the studio closed down, I decided to give my body a break and use the time off to heal the chronic issues I’ve been experiencing. My shoulder is getting better (I’m pretty sure it’s a muscular thing); but my wrist is still just as cranky as ever, so it appears surgery is, in fact, a part of my future. Clearly I’m going to wait for a while on that one.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve decided to get back on my mat and do what makes my body happy — enjoy a nice yoga asana class. I’ve been taking Cheryl’s classes about once a week right now, and boy have I noticed a difference in my body. Just the other day I thought my trembling legs would be obvious to everyone else in the Zoom class, and I was surprised that I felt some sore muscles for a few days afterwards. Something relatively benign for me in the past, like a Warrior 1, now turned into an intense and challenging pose. While I’m now having to rebuild my strength, I know I’m coming at it from a place of healing.
And my strength has been needed elsewhere lately.
When I think about what my life has been like in the last two months, I suddenly cut myself some slack: I’ve closed down my business of six years, been socially distancing from my boyfriend, and am creating a new business model out of thin air — all during a pandemic. Yeah, my strength has shifted to more mental and emotional places.
I’m probably the one-millionth person who’s said this, but these are uncertain times. Our energies are going into a more primal survival mode. We’re moving through circumstances that are unprecedented, and the stakes are very high. Mental and emotional breakdowns are common occurrences globally.
If ever was a time to retain our strength, it’s now.
So what can we do to retain and rebuild our strength during this point in our lives, where sometimes just getting out of bed can be an accomplishment? That’s going to look different for each of us. But here’s what I’m doing (in no particular order):
- Drinking more water.
- Getting enough rest — This includes some downtime in the afternoon on the days that my energy is low.
- Moving my body — Some movement, any movement, every day. Whether that’s a dance party in my family room, a yoga class, digging in my garden, or chasing my 15-month-old granddaughter, getting the circulation flowing is an absolute must.
- Meditating — This is a blended thing for me. I begin with Nadi Shodhana pranayama (alternate nostril breathing technique), followed by several moments of sitting still and focusing on my breath. Then I’ll listen to a guided meditation or visualization.
- Journaling — Another blended practice. First I’ll write in my gratitude journal, then I’ll write in my regular journal. These are mixed in with my meditation practice.
- Reading — Whether it’s business books, something fictional, or personal improvement, I’m taking time to sit and chill out every day. And I’m not talking about scrolling through Twitter or Facebook. I’m really enjoying sitting in my backyard with a book and my tea in the morning, easing into my day as the birds serenade me.
Notice I didn’t include doing five bazillion reps of biceps curls or 20,000 squats. Sure, I could do that, and my physical strength would build. But what I really need right now is to acknowledge where my energy is at and move accordingly.
What are some ways you’ve lost and found your strength? If you don’t mind sharing, please leave a comment below for us all to get more ideas and inspiration. And please allow yourself some time to rest. We all need that, especially right now.