This fall, I developed plantar fasciitis, and my feet were killing me. Every step I took hurt. My whole body hurt, really. I felt old and sore and out of shape.
I’ve been running 12 miles a week since 1993, but because it was painful to run, and I knew I was making the problem worse with every step, I began to substitute online yoga workouts on days I would normally cover a few miles on foot. Once a gymnast and a dancer who was as bendy as a pretzel, I didn’t anticipate any problems getting through a yoga workout.
I was wrong. I struggled to keep up with the 20-somethings in the online yoga video I chose. I watched in wonder at one point as a participant popped up into a headstand from a posture that was, in itself, giving me trouble.
“You’re kidding me,” I said, bringing my efforts to a halt to watch this young thing hover there, all balanced and perky. I thought to myself, with no small amount of sorrow over the limitations age had wrought on me, “I’ll never be able to do that again.”
I finished the workout and felt a bit deflated at my shortcomings-my stiff and uncooperative 54-year-old body. The fact that I could not do a headstand and the girl in the video could bothered me for days. I wondered how many other people in yoga classes around the world were doing headstands that I could not do.
But, the next time I did the video, I had a tremendous realization that has touched my life in countless ways. I thought, “Well, you can’t do the headstand today, but if you keep doing this yoga video, I bet you’ll be able to soon. Work at it.”
That was last November. Since, I have continued doing yoga on my own, sans video and young things, figuring that watching them excel each time would make me feel compelled to compete and rush.
Instead, I made my own yoga-dance workout, combining my favorite postures with some favorite dance stretches and moves. I did tripods, while balanced on my head as an entry maneuver.
About three weeks ago, I pressed up into my first headstand in about 30 years, shaky and unsure but completely gleeful. I’ve been doing headstands in these workouts effortlessly, and with strength, since.
Yes, that’s what I’m talking about! Perseverance people! Patience. These qualities really are virtuous!
Somehow, the yoga video has taught me how to take it slow and steady and not try to win the race the first time out the gate. Life itself has not been able to teach me this. Perhaps this year, I was simply ready to learn.
The learning is useful in so many ways.
I became single again in the fall, and that threw me into feeling insecure and anxious about my future-and my day-to-day as well. But with my newfound perseverance and patience, I have tapped into a place of strength that is sustaining me.
I can do headstands, dammit.
I am as capable as I want to be. I can take care of myself.
Another, more practical example: I have always bemoaned how cold my uninsulated home office is, and how it makes the rest of my home cold. So this winter, I bought a blind that could hang in between living room and office, allowing me to keep each room warmer in a more efficient way.
But, I didn’t know how to install it, so the blind sat in a corner until I realized that if I applied perseverance and patience, I could read the directions it came with, more than once, if necessary, and hang the thing myself.
As I write this, I am snug in my office, blind in its place.
I am looking at 2018 as the Year of Strength for me-for all of us. The moral of this story is that we can all work around and through our limitations. No matter our age. No matter what we tell ourselves is out of our reach.
What is your headstand? What do you want to do and think you can’t? Break it into steps, and give it a try.