2020 – What a year. The Yogis believe that we come to the Earth School to learn, evolve, and enjoy the adventure of our unfolding. As it turns out, it is often the times of greatest discomfort that lead to the deepest insights. Comfort is just so darn comfortable, and sometimes circumstances beyond our control are necessary to shake us out of our complacency, and guide us to new ways of seeing ourselves, and the world. The yoga mat is microcosm of life, so it’s unsurprising that this difficult year has taught us many of the same lessons gleaned from a challenging yoga practice. And while I will be as happy as anyone to see 2020 in the rearview mirror, I’ve learned a few things along the way, and I hope you have, too…
We Can Do Hard Things– Do you remember back in March, when it all began? How we couldn’t imagine staying at home, not seeing loved ones, wearing masks all the time, online school? And yet, we’re doing it. I am astounded by the way my low-tech husband has mastered online teaching, and my stepchildren have adapted to remote learning. I’m surprised by how connected I can feel to friends by just keeping a group text thread going. It turns out we are incredibly adaptable. It’s why yoga poses have modifications, and bricks, belts, and bolsters are available for extra support. While this past year has looked nothing like what most of us expected, we are getting through it, and may be better for it in the end.
Respect Your Limits– I tend towards nervousness, and recognized immediately that in order to come through this pandemic with my mental health intact, I needed to err on the side of caution. At first it was hard to turn down invitations– Everyone has varying comfort levels regarding risk, and I would wonder if I was overreacting…or just being a weenie. Maybe. But it’s what works for me, and I no longer apologize. As we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves through our yoga practice, we learn not to push past our limits, to respect our boundaries. It’s how we avoid injury, exhaustion and burnout. When we let go of our ideals about what a pose, or a year, should look like, we develop acceptance, patience and fortitude, and discover the relief found in surrender.
The Importance Of Rest– We often tend to gauge our worth by how busy & productive we are…how much we can get done. On the mat, we learn to rest in child’s pose when our breath becomes labored, signaling that our nervous systems are over-taxed. In a year of collective grief, fear, and trauma, we may have found ourselves requiring extra rest. Hopefully we’ve discovered that downtime, those hours spent reading, resting, binge watching Netflix, sleeping more than usual, or simply sitting with our breath, is not a waste of time, but absolutely necessary. We cannot sustain ourselves on high alert for long periods of time. We must pause and recharge to be able to fight again another day.
Don’t Miss The Point– Talk about perspective. The point of deep backbend is not an Instagram worthy pose, but rather to practice relaxing into fear, finding peace in the midst of uncertainty, and learning a bit about ourselves along the way. During this trying time I’ve rediscovered what’s truly important. I’ve come to prioritize my closest relationships. I have remembered the significance of a small gesture…a moment of commiseration with a neighbor on a dog walk, a quick check-in with a friend. I have doubled down on self-care: rest, home-cooked meals, long walks, snuggle time with my man and my dog. Instead of worrying that our kids are falling behind, I’ve found inspiration in watching them rise to the occasion, learn the power of adaptability, and recognize that personal sacrifices are worth making for the greater good. While I miss restaurants and live music and girls’ outings, I appreciate a good dinner in my warm home more than ever…and the beauty found in simple moments.
Community Is Powerful– My teacher often says, “Together we can do so much more than we ever could alone.” As we go through this global crisis, it has been so inspiring to see countless displays of courage, compassion, and communion: Italians singing on their balconies during lock down. Doctors and nurses working horrific hours, risking their lives everyday. Neighbors running errands for each other. Thousands of volunteers running food banks. The Wall of Moms. Young children raising money for Covid relief…and endless other examples of heroism. And to all of the people around the world who have set aside their personal desires, and made hard choices to help keep everyone safe… Thank you.
So, my Christmas Wish is that, as we go forward, we continue to integrate the lessons we have learned this year. May we always remember that we are stronger than we think we are, more adaptable than previously imagined, infinitely capable of peace, and above all, we are ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.