Yesterday was my birthday. It was a nasty day for me physically. The new brand of my IVIG is not sitting with me well. It was going to be a pandemic birthday, so I wasn’t planning on a party, but I wanted to do something symbolic for making it through another crazy year. Instead, I had days of migraine, body aches, and chills. If I don’t get movement, my mood sinks. My mood was really bad despite a lot of love thrown my way and even some gluten free cupcakes hand delivered (celiac disease).
Every doctor, therapist, or anyone into exercise will tell you it’s a huge endorphin builder. If you have a body that has exercise available to it. Many people just think they can’t, except for a couple of diagnoses, exercise, even very gentle exercise is good for the mind.
I have a body that says I shouldn’t exercise. When my thoracic spine was fused in 2018, I rested for a few weeks. I bought a book for yoga designed for back pain. It had a section that gave steps to heal from back surgery. I very slowly began to do them until I was cleared to go back to regular yoga.
Gym style yoga isn’t my thing. The classes are usually large, so proper corrections can’t be given leading to injury. There’s a lot of comparing in gym yoga classes, so people push themself to be just as good or flexible as the person next to them. We all have unique bodies.
I saw an advertisement for an “alignment based” yoga class at a local yoga studio that was a better price than my physical therapy copay. I tried it and was hooked. It’s actually iyengar yoga.
Today I decided I would get up despite still feeling a headache and not much energy. I saw on the iyengar livestream schedule there was a class called “jumping for joy”. The class description said it was for everyone and a lot about bringing lightness to the spirit and letting your inner child out to jump. I was sold despite using my wheelchair the past few days due to completely numb feet. I didn’t think I could jump, but I did!
Part of what has been really important for me in my trauma healing has been getting inside my body. It’s really hard to do when you have trauma, but you add a fused spine, a neuro immune disease, a neuromuscular disease, some autoimmune diseases, and throw in a genetic neurological disease just for fun, being in my body is the last place I want to hang out. But I do.
I hate my body a lot of the time. After I do an iyengar yoga class, I am in love with my body. It reminds me of what I can do versus what I can’t.
I’m not telling anyone to become a proficient yogi. During this time of pandemic when most of us are basically locked up at home, what can you do? For me personally, the lack of being forced to go anywhere or do anything has put my perpetual feelings of being “lazy” aside and have been writing everything down about my day including physical activity, emotional events, cognitive activities, what I ate, etc to figure out my activity threshold. I’ve thrown in a ton of much needed rest too.
I definitely have sad feelings and the pandemic affects me in bigger ways than I thought. I also know I can’t control the outside world. I can only control what I’m doing with me right now. My best I can do is be good to me. I can accept the grief that nearly a week of IVIG symptoms caused me to lose. I can also accept my joy at trying something new today.
I wasn’t perfect at it like I always demanded of myself before, but I did try. I wish I had a before class picture. I probably looked a little stressed and sour. The teacher was successful, I was joyful.
Is there something you can do to cultivate some joy in a time of fear and uncertainty? I know I have huge fears, but I’m working to balance it out. (And I wasn’t always this healthy. I used to smoke more than a pack of cigarettes a day, lived on donuts and candy, was pretty overweight in an unhealthy way, and drank 12 diet cokes a day. This was only slightly over 2 years ago. Just so you know I’m real 😉) This is just what I do to lessen the misery and have some bright moments even in rough times.