When I turned 30 I set out to run a half marathon because it seemed like such a great goal. As a non-runner, I anticipated that training would be horribly challenging but something I knew I could do. I picked a very flat course, ran trails with my husband (a marathon runner) and some good friends, finished the race and “checked that box.” As I crossed the finish line I remember distinctly thinking, well that was awesome and I never want to do that again.
Ten years later, just before turning 40, I decided I would set another physical challenge, but, with young kids and my full time job, I needed a goal that wouldn’t take too much of my time and be something I could “check off once I had completed it.” So, I decided I would make my inflexible body get into the splits, a pose I have wanted to do since childhood. Did you know there are thousands of YouTube videos about how to do the splits? There is one called “getting into the splits in less than 3 days.”
Needless to say, 3 days came and went and I still could not do the splits. My time was sucked up by work, late nights thinking about ways to further my career and feeling guilty about not being able to spend time with my children. I was exhausted and in the back of my mind, I felt frustrated that I had not yet met my silly goal. One day, my online search led me to the Carolina Yoga Company and a modern looking yoga studio (I love modern houses) in downtown durham. I impulsively signed up for an inversion workshop (naturally) with Mira. Being upside down that weekend sort of turned my perspective upside down as well. Enlivened and invigorated, I no longer wanted to just do the splits, a very short term goal. I wanted to teach my body all sorts of poses, to learn how to breathe under pressure and most importantly, I wanted, no needed to nurture myself.
As a woman who takes care of women (I’m a breast radiologist) I am familiar with a woman’s natural tendency to take care of everyone around her often at the expense of her own well being. As such, I make it a point to reassure and praise those women coming to see me for making time for themselves, for addressing their needs and concerns and for listening to their bodies. I decided to start listening to myself, to consider my needs and to use this as an opportunity to model positively for my children. Prioritizing sleep, (mostly) healthy eating and practicing yoga makes me feel better and, not surprising, its much easier in this state for me to care for those I love and for them to be around me.
Since that first handstand workshop with Mira almost a year and a half ago, I have participated in 3 Maha yoga months and I feel more alive and balanced in my self-family-friends-work life than I have in a long time. What about my goal to do the splits? I’m still working on that and it feels okay that I haven’t checked that box because I’ve modified my goals. I guess its possible I may never be able to do the splits, but somehow I feel less anxious about it— I’ve learned so much about myself and I’m in a beautiful place right now, content but still striving.