By Louise Applebome
I previously wrote about some uncharacteristic health questions/problems I was experiencing last month.
Bottom line: My system was out of balance. I was not feeling like myself.
One possible, but not convincing, explanation was that I had post-COVID symptoms. The skepticism was partly due to not being sure I’d ever even had COVID in the first place. So, I tried to outsmart the malaise with a strict detox diet of organic mung bean soup and cooked vegetables only, every meal for five days. In fact, the brain fog that had been prominent for more than a month did seem to clear up a bit. Was it the soup or the passage of time? And, I supplemented the careful eating with herbs formulated to clear the cobwebs out of my brain, reduce inflammation and have me feeling good as new over time. Other herbs addressed my digestion transgressions.
The fact is, the herbs can take weeks or months to kick in. But, as I only felt worse, I opted to give them up after a few weeks. And however contrary to my nature and treatment courses, I did finally break down and visit my internist. I went to the doctor with my long list of reasons that brought me there. Of course, on that visit, I felt better than I had in months. Why does that always happen? But, I did agree to have bloodwork done and the results confirmed that I had had COVID and my lingering, pesky symptoms were textbook COVID-related. Not particularly scientific, but more anecdotal observation solidified the suspicion that this virus is one sneaky and insidious pest. And the results from the infection can hang around and affect each person differently.
Fatigue, foggy brain, shortness of breath, intestinal distress, achiness, sleeplessness.
But, slowly but surely, I continue to feel better and more myself.
Mostly, there’s not that much for me to do. Eating well is essential. Yoga and walks are, too. Blessedly, I’m enjoying food and wine again. In large part, my routines and lifestyle have not been interrupted nor disturbed by this little bug. And, I’ve learned some new lessons during this process, beyond those specifically related to COVID-19 worming its way into our lives.
For starters, I’ve been hit over the head with the reminder that living with imperfection is to be human, and to be human is to live with imperfection. Having been a ballerina during my teen years, this notion would have been pure heresy. In the ballet world, there was no room for a margin of error. This set an unrealistic and unforgiving standard that has shadowed me throughout my adult life. The discipline I gained from those years of dancing, however, goes in the plus column. It helped me in my professional careers and certainly has carried over into my yoga practice and teaching. But, some of the other demands and beliefs (i.e. having to be stick-thin) have been impediments.
It’s interesting to me that I often see yoga practitioners imposing unrealistic demands on their practice and their bodies. They need not have been ballerinas to have grown up in an environment in which they felt marginalized and in which their true nature, creativity, and spirit were siphoned out of them or tamped down. Yoga, in fact, is the path to restoring one’s true nature. It’s a place to get the head screwed back on straight, literally and figuratively. The practice is not a competition. But, an ongoing and regular practice is required in order to see results. The Sanskrit word, sadhana, means practice. And, on a very superficial level it could be applied to each time we do a meditation or breathing exercises or a downward-facing dog. But it’s much more than a one-off visit to the mat. Sadhana is what is essential for peeling off the layers that are negative and/or vestigial and incrementally and exponentially finding healthier minds, bodies, spirits, and hearts. It’s about creating an ethos and eco-system that foster personal and collective growth. It includes the cessation of destructive thoughts and actions towards oneself and others. It’s broad and tall and far-reaching. No one trip to the mat can do that. It’s cumulative. That’s not to say an individual meditation or yoga class can’t have profound effects. As the effects of a session wash over you at the end, elation and ecstasy or deep sorrow and sadness are possible. But the greater meaning of sadhana is that practice is an ongoing, driving presence in one’s lifestyle and priorities en route to finding a higher and more contented self…albeit not one that’s perfect.
If one goal is to have easier inner access to calm and equanimity, one can be sure that just one yoga class or meditation session is not going to provide that.
Consistency, repetition, sadhana, discipline, patience, and commitment all have to be part of the package. And, sprinkled in and amongst it all is imperfection. Also sprinkled in is individuality. Certainly, there are wide and vast differences in physical and psychic characteristics from one person to the next. But, it’s probably safe to say that a common denominator, particularly among the senior set, is to minimize pain, in all its manifestations, and to maximize function. If only there was a silver bullet and/or magic pill to do all that. But, alas, there is not. So, with open minds and open hearts, we embrace our humanity, warts, imperfections and all, and accept that whether it’s an identifiable foe like COVID-19 or a more existential threat like low self-esteem or evil in the world, there’s still and always work to do to strive and to thrive and to overcome the obstacles and fears.
A nice hot bowl of organic mung bean soup along the way also can’t hurt.
Louise Applebome, 68, is a Certified Yoga Instructor in Dallas. After “retiring” from a vibrant and varied professional career, she became a yoga teacher. She teaches all her classes on Zoom right now and accepts students, young or older, from wherever they are, both geographically and in their pursuit of a yoga practice. Louise will help you stay fit and flexible, and release tension, aches & pains from the body…and the mind. Her yoga studio in Dallas is del norte yoga. You can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.