Yoga and recovering from Seasonal Illness
I, like most of the people I know, seem to have been wiped out since Christmas with one illness after another. First it was the stomach bug, followed by the Aussie flu, now followed by a chest infection that won’t seem to budge (seriously when will it end). As someone with coeliac disease my immune system isn’t great and so I know I’m prone to picking up any bugs that are in the wind, so I dose up on vitamin C and D, eat healthily and try to protect myself but there is only so much a good diet and vitamins can do. Sometimes I’m just going to get ill. After weeks of ‘blah’ my good humour is languishing in the gutter and my ‘get up and go’ is currently giving me the evil eye. So how do I motivate myself to get on my mat?
No matter how much it gets abused, the body can restore balance. The first rule is to stop interfering with nature - Deepak Chopra.
Well to begin with I just simply didn’t. I recognised that my body needed time to recover, so I was good to myself; cups of soup, lots of water and early nights whenever life would permit me them (easier said than done if you have children who are prone to waking in the night and a husband who is a bit on the snorey side). I also managed to work my way through several box sets that had been recommended to me between dozing, every cloud right?
When my energy began to pick up I recognised that a full yoga practice was going to remain out of reach for a while. My body was still aching and whilst I was longing to find some me time, it had to be with baby steps. I avoided inversions, taking a gentle vinyasa, no chaturangas and swapping down dog for child’s pose. My bolster became my new best friend! I also limited my practice to between 10 and 20 minutes. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot but believe me when you’re recovering from illness, its more than enough.
And I reminded myself why I practice the yoga asanas. Whilst they’re gratifying and I enjoy the physicality of transitioning through the poses they aren’t the goal for me. Instead they help me to get rid of my mind chatter, the stuff like running through the children’s school schedules, remembering to pick up the dry cleaning or wondering why someone seemed a little off with me. When I focus on my alignment, the chatter falls away, so that by the time I reach savasana, the relaxation and wind down part of my yoga practice, I can surrender to the rhythm of my breath and my own meditation and it’s there that I can find a stillness that totally evades me the rest of the time.
The upshot is when recovering from any illness be kind to yourself, leave your ego at the door. It doesn’t matter if your hands normally reach the floor in standing forward bend and now they don’t, they will when you’re better. Your body is talking to you, are you listening?