- Robin Sharma
At the beginning of the year, I was very sick and developed an illness that malingered for months. I quit going to hot yoga because physically and mentally I just didn't feel like I had the strength to do what was required in 105 degree heat. I was actually scared of going to class and finding out what might be there. Consequently, I let a strange phobia creep over me and dominate my life for about 10 months.
What I think was really happening is that I was emotionally spent and had been living in a state of denial for far too long. I needed to experience and own up to my grief, which left me feeling raw and exposed. So instead of going to yoga class, my body crashed and burned as a way to create a protective coating. I crawled into my safe cocoon of illness and took myself out of the flow life for awhile. Illness was my cave.
I looked at my altered state of health as a opportunity to get my so-called house in order and try to make the best of things. I developed a slow yoga practice at home that I could control and sought out other forms of exercise like hiking and biking. During this period where I felt like something had been taken away -- yoga class -- I reached out to try other things. I made revisions and found other strengths I didn't know existed in me such as tenacity, patience, and tolerance for something uncomfortable.
After awhile I gradually woke up from my state of fear, felt more confident, and decided to attend a yoga class. Wow, what a surprise! First of all nothing about the class scared me. Second of all I was surprisingly physically stronger and had more endurance than before my sickness. Ten months away from yoga, and I was actually in better shape mentally, physically, and emotionally.
During the whole class, I felt so elated and grateful to be there. Little mental nuisances that had been plaguing me before had completely vanished because I was just so happy to be surrounded by my yoga community again. During my time away I had done so much meditating and inner work that a lot of my reactions to personal space and behavior in the yoga room had disappeared.
Strangely I wrote about this kind of positive contrasting experience back in 2012 where a perceived setback can be the set up for something bigger.
If I hadn't gotten sick I would have never developed the mental discipline for a home practice, held poses longer to increase my flexibility, worked without a mirror to become more inwardly centered and balanced, and rode my bike to create more endurance and lower body strength.
In some odd way, my yoga practice before my illness had been limited and by getting sick I actually expanded my physical and emotional capabilities. Stepping away from the motivation of the room, teachers, and friends helped me become a more balanced yogini.
I will never take another yoga class without an incredible sense of gratitude and happiness because I know now what it's like to feel like I lost it. And from this experience of feeling disconnected from something I love, my body finally separated itself from what my ego wanted out of yoga class and instead can celebrate each precious moment of sweat and togetherness without any expectations.