I have to say, I’ve never been the athletic type. I wasn’t the LAST to be chosen for teams in school, instead just hovering around the middle somewhere. In University, I joined the rowing team thinking “hey- rowing’s in my blood (my dad is World Master Champion of the seven seas and beyond. No seriously. He loves rowing.), maybe this is something that will get me in shape…” but the bug never bit. I am not enough of a morning person to be exercising in layers of skintight waterproof clothing, attacked by all nature’s fury.
I tried picking up running again. I was ok at Cross Country and Athletics in school- maybe this was something I could stick to. I always found sheer joy in running the trails in Rock Creek Park in DC- I knew routes that would take me one mile or ten through lush foliage. It was my secret escape. The Park was my little world of sunbeams filtering through the tree branches, and the occasional deer cheering me on from the ferns that filled the forest floor on either side of the trail. I watched seasons pass as leaves changed colour, the trail floor became crunchy then the Creek froze, but the mud would always return, followed by bright green buds and eventually the hazy buggy warmth again. It was my paradise.
When I moved to Canada, I missed Rock Creek Park. I stopped running because I didn’t know a place I could escape to and sprint to my little heart’s content in what felt like privacy but also being completely open in the great outdoors. I became depressed and even the thought of lacing up my sneakers was daunting- let alone figuring out a route I could follow and find my peace.
I had to find something easier. I had tried yoga classes in DC and enjoyed them- it was a different kind of exercise- not so much the heart racing, sweat dripping, heavy breathing type that running was, but more mental exercise. Yoga allowed me to train my brain to stop racing with negative thoughts. It turned “what am I doing with my day” to “this is what I’m doing today”. It allowed me to carve out time for myself, tell the bad thoughts in my head to shut their traps, and just focus on my breath and my pose.
These days, I still practice yoga at home. I have a few youtube channels that are my regular go-to’s, which I will share at the bottom of this post! Depression can make the task of rolling out your mat and finding a practice to follow exhausting- believe me, speaking from experience here. I’ve found that if I make a decision in my mind, I have to act on it within 5 seconds or it won’t get done. So, if I’m sitting at my computer and the thought “I should do some yoga” crosses my mind. I’m training myself to immediately open a tab and find a practice to do, or else I will continue spiralling into the internet abyss, any good intention of self-love cast aside.