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One Breath at a Time

Posted Feb 10 2009 10:00am

Uuuhhhhnnnnn. That's the sound of a sick yogi, or, at least, this sick yogi. I'm not going to launch into a pity party here, but I'm feeling lousy, which is not my normal physical state (and for this I am extremely grateful). Of course things could certainly be worse and since I'm a silver lining kind of girl, I like to look at the upside of being sick -- I can slow down a bit and be content to get less done, I take even better care of myself and offer up an extra dose of babying, I sleep a little longer, I catch up on my reading, and I wear comfy clothes and snuggle up by the fire (well, I don't need to be sick to do this one).

Of course when I'm feeling a bit depleted, my practice changes. Like everything else when I'm sick, things seem to take quite a bit of extra effort (it just seems like everything takes so much longer to do -- I'll liken it to an example from back in the day that you old-timers can relate to -- it's like putting a 45 record on 33 speed). Simple things like get the mail (ohhhhhhh, I have to go outside in 23 degree weather and watch out for ice patches and get the mail whines poor little ole me), wash my face (which is normally something that I view as pampering -- of course that could be something to do with my awesome all-natural skincare routine that consists of heavenly products that make skincare seem like a spa treatment), cook lunch (ohhhhhhh heating up soap is just such a chore -- yes because using that can opener, pouring the contents into a pot and taking a few minutes to heat it all on the stove is a real stamina tester [note from blogger -- feel the sarcasm here]), and even practicing yoga can feel like a bit of an uphill climb.

Even though I'm having a spirit-is-willing-but-the-flesh-is-weak moment (or, in this case, 4-5 days), I know in my heart that practice will feel good and do good. So what's a weak yogi to do? When I am in this state, I block out all of the future thoughts -- "Oh, how am I going to get through 45 minutes of practice? "Just the thought of getting started tires me out" "I think the couch is beckoning me -- I could just veg out and watch TV instead"-- and concentrate on the NOW. I simply take it one breath at a time.

Today I was feeling particularly foggy, out of it, and achy so even though I knew that I wanted to practice, my body didn't seem to want to cooperate. I unfurled my mat regardless of the voices inside my head that tried to convince me that I should lay on the couch instead and rest and that my body shouldn't be taxing itself right now and, after thanking my mind for sharing those thoughts, I told myself that I would simply focus on the next breath. I wouldn't think about the next pose or the next 5 minutes or the entire duration of the practice. Instead, I placed my intention on the current breath. Before I knew it, those breaths added up to 45 minutes of practice. Ahhhhhhhh.

Not only is this a helpful mindset to take when sick, but it's also helpful in the day-to-day life of a healthy person. Often, when I start a project, I tend to think about how long it's going to take and all that's involved. If I just focused on the first little action step, perhaps it wouldn't all seem so overwhelming. Note to self -- remember this when you ditch this cold and feel healthier.

Of course positive intake also gets me through times when I just want to pull the covers over my head and revel in self-pity. Positive intake is surrounding myself with good stuff -- positive movies, music, reading, etc. Right now a few of my positivity peps include:

So the moral of the story for this under the weather yogi? Take it one breath at a time and infuse a little positivity into the day. So far so good. This thinking has gotten me past the last few days when I'd much rather stay in bed than engage in life, much less a yoga practice. How could taking life one breath at a time change your world for the better?


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